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"When an entire nation thirsted to break free from PC…Andrew Breitbart opened a big bar."–Chris Muir

Archive for the ‘Critiques’ Category

KingShamus’ Best of 2012

Posted by KingShamus on December 31, 2012

Hey, here’s some of my old crap! If there’s any consolation, I picked two or three posts from each month.  That should limit the suckage.  I know, this is sorta lame, but if I Instapundit can do it, so can I.

January

Mitt Romney Sucks And I Miss Reagan

Music Monday Zep – ‘We’re Gonna Groove” by the mighty Led Zeppelin

February

Beer Review – Assorted Samuel Adams Winter Suds

Mike Bloomberg’s Very Busy Week

Presidential Election Doomwatch–Placing The Blame For Mitt Romney’s Ascendency

March

Support Conservative Political Mommy Bloggers!

Ameritopia and the Fable of The Frogs

Barack, Trayvon and The 2012 Election

April

President Barack ‘Dog Meat’ Obama Is An Admitted Dog Meat Eater Who Has Eaten Dog Meat

Rick Santorum’s Exit

May

Wait, Faster Than Light Travel Isn’t Hip in Science Fiction Anymore?

Music Review – ‘Harmonicraft’ by Torche

DeWayne Wickham: Get Back On The Democrat Plantation, Gay Republicans!

June

Municipal Debt Bombs: The Other Source Of Fiscal Collapse

Because Fashion Is A Passion For The With-It And Hip

Grade School Bully Gets Bullied By His Teacher Who Is In Fact A Bully

July

The Shootings At Aurora-A Real Villain and Real Heroes

Hey Everybody! ‘The Obama Effect’ Is Coming Out Today!

General Electric and Barack Obama: The Magical Relationship Continues

August

Why Clint Eastwood’s Republican Convention Speech Worked

Nathan Lane: Prince Barry’s Court Jester

Hey @MSNBC! Here Are All The Speeches You Didn’t Cover From Last Night’s #RNC.

September

NFL Replacement Refs Making The Game’s Faults All Too Obvious

The US Doesn’t Have To Fix The Middle East

Who Could’ve Foreseen The Highly Unlikely Scenario Of Terrorism At The US Consulate In Benghazi?

October

#MyFirstTime–Best Political Ad…EVAH?

DVD Review–Prometheus

November

(Really, can’t we skip this month?  It was sorta yucky.)

Mayor Mike Bloomberg: “The NYC Marathon is on; let the boroughs eat running shoes” (Update!)

Post-Presidential Election 2012: Splitting Headache Edition

Personal Values, Political Choices

Lawrence O’Donnell Was For Secession Before It Was Cool!

December

Living And Breathing Left-Wing Politics

Guns Crime Facts, Gun Crime Feelings

Okay folks, there you have it.

BDKS 2012 is done.  On to the new year.  Thank God.

Also, thanks for stopping by Blog De KingShamus.  The readers and commenters are who make this place cool.  For that I am humbled and grateful.   Happy New Year and may your 2013 be full of happiness, success and a fully-stocked MRE bin.

Posted in Celebutards!, Critiques, Domestic Happenings, Foreign doings, Media Silliness, Politicians behaving badly, The Social Scene, The Sporting Life | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

DVD Review–Prometheus

Posted by KingShamus on October 22, 2012

I admit it; I had high hopes for this flick.  Tell me this doesn’t sound promising–“Ridley Scott explores the backstory of the Alien mythos, with a massive budget and big name acting talent to flesh out the sure-fire chills and thrills.”  On paper, that would seem to suggest something really amazing.

Yeah, not quite.

The basic plot is not without merit.  Scientists find a map to a planet where the creators of humanity, called Engineers, are thought to live.  Even though this is basically the storyline for every single episode of “Ancient Aliens”, we’ll let Ridley Scott off the hook for not keeping up with History Channel’s re-commitment to super-realistic not completely bat-shit insane programming.

So naturally, the Weyland Corporation sends a group of unstable weirdos, emotional basketcases and a deliberately mysterious android to run a gazillion dollar mission to determine the origins of human life on Earth.  Sure.  That’s how NASA does their job, right?

Then they get to the planet and of course all hell breaks loose, mostly because the people running the operation are about 50 IQ points dumber than their job titles would suggest.  Everyone in the crew is supposed to be an expert in their field.  Meanwhile, they constantly do stupid shit that gets them killed, mutated or impregnated with a freaky squid baby.

To be fair, the visuals of Prometheus are stunning.  The viewer is immersed in an environment that looks otherworldly in the best sense of the word.  Ridley Scott is an expert at making places like Iceland and Jordan’s Wadi Rum look distinctly unTerra-like.

The problem is that the movie insists on being more than a silent montage of mind-blowing landscapes.  The best science fiction raises questions about the nature of the human condition.  Prometheus constantly raises interesting questions, builds them up and then…lets them float off into the ether.

A piece of speculative fiction also needs a level of consistency in order for the audience to remain interested.  What does the black liquid–the stuff that seems like it’s central to the movie–do exactly?  It melts an Engineer’s body, mutates space worms, zombiefies humans and sorta kinda in a roundabout way gets a woman pregnant with a proto-facehugger…maybe.  If the audience can’t make  heads or tails out of the rules and logic of the film, it doesn’t matter how meaningful the movie’s questions are.

Beyond that, there are meta-issues with the film.  Prometheus was hyped as a sorta-prequel to 1979’s Alien.  One of the big questions ‘Promo’ was supposed to answer–and like everything else in the flick it only hints at it–is the origin of the Aliens.  But is this a story that really calls out to be told?

Let’s look back at Alien for a second.  At it’s heart, that film has been famously characterized as a haunted house movie in space.  Sure, there were some questions left unanswered.  Yes, there was some sexualized body-horror elements thrown into  the mix.  Yet, Alien is still basically about a living killing machine tearing through a bunch of scared weak humans.  In fact, all four “Alien” movies more or less tell the same tale:  People versus an intensely scary space monster.

Now compare Alien to movies that came out in roughly the same era, the Star Wars trilogy.  Alien was a fairly simple story that knew what it was supposed to do and delivered the goods in spades.  Like Alien, the older Star Wars trilogy was an easy to understand tale done in a rousing energetic fashion.

So how did George Lucas build on the success of his first three Star Wars movies?  He focused on Darth Vader, the principle bad guy of his original trilogy, and took him from being just a bad-ass villain with a complicated past  and made him into the prophesied Intergalactic Jesus of the Star Wars universe.  With the new SW prequels, George Lucas tried to weave themes of political upheaval, the death of democracy and the temptations of evil into the larger story of Darth Vader’s rise and fall into the dark side.  The simple yet effective storytelling of the first movies was discarded in the new prequels in an attempt to create an epic motion picture with deep messages.

It worked…poorly.

I’d argue that with Prometheus, Ridley Scott has made the same mistake George Lucas made with his Star Wars prequels.  Regardless of his possible reasons, Scott didn’t want to make another straightforward horror movie like Alien.  For all it’s gore and scary visuals, Prometheus really wants to be a philosophical meditation on the mankind’s place in the universe.  However, humanity’s creation story seems like an awkward fit for the Alien and it’s related mythos.

Is Prometheus worth watching?  Of course. The visuals alone are worth the price of admission.  But does the film succeed by the standards it sets for itself?  Not quite.  Instead of being a true science fiction masterpiece, Prometheus is a decent movie with deep flaws.

MORE:  Greg over at The Mind Is An Unexplored Country has a few choice words for Prometheus.

Seriously, I believe the People In Charge Of The Oscars should create a new category: Most Justifiably Ridiculed Mocked and Parodied Motion Picture. Just for this pile of cinema crud.

Oooof.  There’s more there, so read the rest.

Also, he found the Honest Trailer for the Prometheus.  Funny, but definitely full of spoilers and most assuredly Not Safe For Work.

Posted in Critiques | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Music Monday Sludge Metal – “Bloody Knuckles” by High On Fire

Posted by KingShamus on October 8, 2012

Friggin’ Rocktober, ya’all.

‘Bloody Knuckles’ seems very appropriate given our current national mood.  We’re less than 30 days away from a huge presidential election.  The polls are tight, especially in the swing states.  That means both candidates are going to ramp up the aggression.  This race will turn into a barroom brawl very soon–if it hasn’t already.  Bloody knuckles, indeed.

As far as the actual song goes, it comes from High on Fire’s latest effort, De Vermis Mysteriis.  ‘Bloody Knuckles’ is a strong representative of the disc’s power.  When DVM came out in April, I was going to do an album review for it, but I got sorta wrapped up in Torche’s Harmonicraft.  I figured one big metal record critique during the spring was more than enough for my eight readers.

The problem is that De Vermis Mysteriis is a record that cannot be ignored, mostly because it expertly mines a vein of rock that many groups either can’t or won’t.  Where other bands mix their metal with David Bowie haircuts, synthesizer breakdowns or dubstep affectations, High on Fire is content to craft pile-driving riffs, intense solos and galloping rhythms.  This gives the band several distinct advantages over their heavy metal competitors, the most important of which is that High on Fire doesn’t suck.

That doesn’t mean that High on Fire is a group for everyone’s taste.  Within five seconds of the ferocious album opener ‘Serums of Liao’, most women will be desperately punching the mute button.  Even though HoF comes from a stoner-rock background, the trustafarian neo-hippie contingent will likely shit their Birkenstocks upon listening to the determined curbstomp of ‘Romulus and Remus’.  The hailstorm of guitars, drums and low-end thump in ‘Spiritual Rites’ sounds like it’s specifically designed to punch Communists in the throat.

But even with all that monolithic riffage, De Vermis Mysteriis has a distinct charm when it goes off-message.  On HoF’s last disc, Snakes for The Divine, the trio’s diversions from the brand felt like gritted-teeth concessions.  In the case of De Vermis, the subdued instrumental ‘Samsara’ blends seamlessly with the overall vibe, as does the slow-burning, insane-finishing ‘Madness of An Architect’.  The midtempo grind of ‘King of Days’ wouldn’t sound out-of-place on an early Queens of the Stone Age album.  The brooding lyrics and somber guitars are a reminder that even the gnarliest metal dudes get the blues every once in a while.

Even more surprising is ‘Warhorn’.  Throughout the disc, lead vocalist Matt Pike’s growl is less like an actual human voice and more akin to a heavily distorted instrument blending into and complementing the overall tone of the songs.  On the record’s finale, Pike’s lyrics are sung largely without his customary bulldozer guitar accompaniment.  Unadorned by six string assistance, Pike’s roaring anger has never sounded more ferocious.

All of that makes De Vermis Mysteriis the hands-down metal album of 2012.  High on Fire not only won the year, they also topped their previous masterpiece Blessed Black Wings and set a new standard for themselves.  If you are at all interested in modern heavy music, De Vermis Mysteriis is a must-own record.

Posted in Critiques, Music Monday | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Music Monday Media Critique – ’24 Hour Bullshit’ by Nailbomb

Posted by KingShamus on July 23, 2012

Just in case you forgot that progressives and the mainstream media–who are one and the same–will use any tragedy to strike against their political enemies, here’s Brian Ross and George Stephanopoulos purposefully linking the Tea Party with the actions of the Aurora Shooter.

After getting put on blast via Twitter, Ross had to walk back his slander against conservative activists.  No word on Stephanopopopopoplpolosoulos about whether he still thinks the theater killer is connected to the Tea Party.  In related news, there is still no word on what Incurious George wants to be when he grows up and gets to wear big boy clothes.

In any case, here’s my tribute to ABC News and the rest of the lamestream media.

I know I kinda wanted to play mellower music over the summer, but this is just too fitting.

Quick hint:  Eat dogshit, ABC News.  You’re little more than MSNBC with a slightly better ‘non-partisan’ drag act to fool your viewers.  I cannot wait for the day when Fox and the Internet beat you to the punch on just about every story.  Oh wait…

Posted in Critiques, Music Monday | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Music Review – ‘Harmonicraft’ by Torche

Posted by KingShamus on May 22, 2012

(Artwork courtesy of Santos)

The Florida doom quartet Torche have never been ones to shy away from melody.  From the git-go, band leader Steve Brooks has been a mainstream pop sort of metalhead, blending decidedly non-screamo singing with bottom-heavy riffage.  At first glance the band’s musical DNA would seem unlikely.  Sabbathy single-note chord progressions shouldn’t play well in the sandbox with major-key vocals and upbeat tempos, yet in Torche’s case they wring a lot of miles out of a beautifully incongruous jalopy.

2008’s Meanderthal was widely hailed as a masterpiece, but soon afterwards, original lead guitarist and long-time Brooks right-hand man Juan Montoya was acrimoniously dismissed from the band.  Torche carried on and put out several EP’s and split sets as a three-piece–Songs For Singles being especially good–but questions remained.  The biggest one:  How would the band respond on their next full-length effort?

Harmonicraft answers listeners with a definitive ‘Huh?”  The record feels like a band cautiously edging away from their earlier influences, but not quite sure where they’re headed to next.  Oh sure, there are more than a few drop-A bombstring masterpieces to be had here.  “Looking On”  is a menacing chunk of sludge that ends the disc on a doomy note.  The 79  seconds of “Sky Trials” features frenetic grooves wrapped up in harmonized Brooks vocals.   “Reverse Inverted” swaggers with new lead guitarist Andrew Elstner’s tripped-out solos and a towering finish.

Even with all that thumpy crunch, Torche finds the time to  take some tentative detours.  The restrained guitars and back-and-forth chorus of “Roaming” is a rock radio hit single waiting to happen.  “Kiss Me Dudely” wraps a Lita Ford reference and an in-joke about Steve Brooks’ homosexuality in feedback squalls and aggressive tempos.  “Solitary Traveler” is reminiscent of earlier Torche songs like “Sundown” and “Face The Wall”.  Where the older tunes would go from dreamy atmospherics to a taciturn climax,  “Solitary” instead drifts into melancholy shoegaze terrain.  The most out-of-character moment is “Harmonicraft”, with gently distorted echoey guitar lines and synth-drum percussion.  It’s like no other song in Torche’s repertoire and it could be the portent of a different direction for group to explore.

But as cool as these experiments are, they’re still fairly small steps away from their sound.  The big problem Torche has is that when they nail their formula, it really doesn’t have a parallel in the current rock scene.  Lead single “Kicking” ranks with past gems like “Vampyro”, “Across The Shields” and “In Return”.  As Brooks and Elstner croon out the bridge, the band takes off into an unambiguous soaring metal anthem.  In lesser hands, fusing unironic majesty with pummeling guitar riffs would probably come off as a cynical Hum copy-cat.  Torche somehow makes their improbable emotive rock work without winking at the audience.

At its core, Harmonicraft presents a bit of a puzzle.  Because there is so much good going on in Torche’s sound, they could easily make four more albums that drill further down into their happy-doom formula.  On the other hand, the quartet might be poised to take the music away from their past work.  In that way, Torche’s latest disc might be roughly analogous to Slayer’s South of Heaven…or Radiohead’s The Bends.  Either way, Harmonicraft has to make the short list for rock record of the year.

Posted in Critiques | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Food Review-Doritos Locos Tacos by Taco Bell

Posted by KingShamus on March 26, 2012

Since I haven’t eaten any really gross food on my blog lately.

For many Americans, Taco Bell represents both the scrumptious promise of vaguely Mexican fast food and the scowling threat of lower abdominal agony.  Da Bell is celebrated by late night partiers as great post-binge grub.  At the same time, using a ten pound sack full of beef burritos to take the edge off of an evening of drunken excess requires good judgement and an ability to tolerate mild to moderate cramping.  Beyond the efficacy of the stuff as after-party grindage, if you ask a lot of people, relying on Taco Bell for anything besides last resort nutrition during the zombie apocalypse is sheer madness.

At the same time it’s hard to argue with the masses, especially when they’re right.  Taco Bell was born in the early sixties and has been a going concern ever since.  How many people have been served by all the Bells in the world?  That’s hard to say, but it’s gotta be tens of millions. How many people across the world have been introduced to the delicious Tex-Mex Southwestern style of cooking through Taco Bell?  Again, that figure is surely in the millions.  The fact of the matter is that Taco Bell makes tasty food and a lot of people know it.      

In what is clearly an attempt to unite the bleary-eyed stoner, dedicated couch potato, two-fisted drinker and too-busy-to-sit-down-guy voting blocs into one massive unstoppable slightly gaseous culinary movement, Taco Bell has invented the Doritos Locos Taco.  Inside, the taco is made out of the familiar meat (or is that ‘meat’?), shredded cheese, lettuce and tomato combination we’ve all grown up with.  The shell is where it deviates from the norm.  Instead of the standard nacho taco wrap, the shell is made out of a large taco-shaped Nacho Cheese flavored Dorito.

This sounds too good to resist.  Fears of the Aztec Two-Step fading!  Misgivings about the pain I’m about to go through receding! 

Okay folks, lets eat some fabulous garbage!        

T-Minus 15 Minutes: 

I pull up to the Taco Bell drive-thru, ready for action.  Naturally, I order three Doritos Locos Tacos.  Of course, I order them using the corniest Antonio Banderas accent possible: “Thhrrrrree Dohhhrrrrrrrrritohhhhsz Lohhhhhkohhhhsz Taahhhhhhcohhhhhsz.”  Assuredly, the drive-thru dude is annoyed, but he takes my order anyway.  I get a Diet Pepsi because I’m really concerned about what goes into my body.

T-Minus 1 minute:

I get home and peel away the wrapping.  Or should I say ‘wrappings’.  Are two casings really necessary?  It seems more like an advertising ploy than for any real hygienic or culinary need. 

Okay Taco Bell.  I get it.  I’m eating a new and exciting taco stuffed into the Frito-Lay Corporation’s flagship snack food.  Message received, homie.

Oh well.  As soon as I tear off the paper, the distinct aroma of Nacho Cheese Doritos wafts up off the plate.  Its like getting a whiff of a batch of Doritos fresh out of the oven.  Interestingly, the doritos are so potent they drown out the normal beefy taco scent.

              

T-Plus 2 minutes:

First impressions are fairly important in life.  In the case of the Locos Tacos, the initial vibe is pretty good.  This particular confection is a step-up from the average Taco Bell taco.  The beefy taste is perfectly matched with the zingy flavor of a Nacho Cheese Dorito.  The steamy warmth of the meat has softened the shell, which makes it go down that much easier. 

T-Plus 5 Minutes:

 

At this point, things are going strong.  As good as Taco Bell’s tacos are, this iteration of their signature item is definitely an improvement.  In fact, it is so good it has me wondering.  Why the hell didn’t they do this sooner?  Maybe the two companies recently merged?  Perhaps Taco Bell and Doritos are still separate entities and they could never get it together before now.  The Doritos Locos Taco is like absurdly low-hanging fruit that should’ve been picked during the Carter Administration. 

T-Plus 8 Minutes:

The Doritos Locos Tacos have got me thinking about other winning combinations that haven’t been dreamed up.  A Dunkin Donuts Bear Claw baked into a Twinkie would be amazing.  I can’t see why a Dominos cheesy stick shouldn’t be the casing for a Subway Five Dollar Footlong.  A Big Mac slapped in between two Auntie Anne’s pretzels might be earth shattering.  Combining two awesome things to make something even awesomer would be awesome.

I’d better stop this train of thought before I turn into an Epic Meal Time rip-off. 

T-Plus 10 minutes:

         

I mean, why the hell can’t we all just get along?  What’s stopping us from really banding together as a species, bro?  Why don’t we all just unite, like the doritos and tacos have in the Doritos Locos Tacos, to make the planet completely excellent.  If all races, religions, ethnic groups and political ideologies could just eat Doritos Locos Tacos, everything would be fine.  The Iranians and the Israelis would immediately sign a free trade agreement.  The Chinese and the Japanese would forgive each other for all the bad shit they’ve done to each other over the millenia.  The Basques and The Spanish would high-five during the Running of The Bulls.  Anything is possible. 

As Gandhi said, “All we have to do is be the change we wish to see in the world while eating Doritos Tacos Locos.” 

Yes.  That is the exact quote.  Gahndhi said those very words.  THE Gnahdhi.   Let me spell it out for you:  H-G-A-H-N-D-H-E-E.  You know, the motherfuckin’ liberator of India.

I read it on the internet.  Go ahead and verify that shit, sweetheart.  You’ll only see that I’m right.  Teh intertubes don’t lie.  THEY JUST DON’T.

T-Plus 1 Hour:

  

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh God.  What the hell did I just say?  I think the Doritos Locos Tacos affected my judgement, impulse control and sanity. 

Yeah, that fugue state was pretty weird. For a second the pure win of the doritos merging with the tacos made me muy locos or some shit.  I think I’m coming down off the nacho cheese high now.

Speaking of the afterglow, something else is going incandescent.  Unfortunately I think it’s my guts.  Yeah, the nacho goodness is starting to turn my stomach into a Gordian knot of nastiness. 

Here comes the pain.

T-Plus 4 hours:

My insides have more or less stopped doing backflips.  Now comes the gas.  Lots and lots of gas.

T-Plus 12 Hours:      

Sleep was a little rough.  Just in case you were wondering, I can confirm that even a single completely unintentional Dutch oven will not be viewed as a hilarious prank by your lover.   Blog De KingShamus:  It’s Educational!

T-Plus 16 Hours:

It’s all over except the flatulence.  Co-workers have been loathe to sit next to me.   I’ve been loathe to sit down anywhere, what with my chafed o-ring and all.

Small children now fear me and wail lamentations over my existence.  Adults look upon my visage as one would look upon a walking plague.  Everywhere my name is spoken in hushed dread:  “Avert your gaze, for there goes KingShamus–Destroyer of Break Rooms.” 

Conclusions

The Doritos Locos Tacos are probably the best Taco Bell tacos ever invented.  The DLT takes the company’s already strong taco recipe and puts it into what should be an award-winning shell.  As stated earlier, it’s hard to imagine why this thing didn’t happen earlier.  A taco made out of a Dorito?  Of course!

The only caveat about the Doritos Locos Tacos is the warning that comes with all Taco Bell food.  If you have a sensitive stomach, you might want to take it easy on the DLT.  Instead of eating an entire bag of them, maybe just one or maybe two.  When it comes to Taco Bell,  be like Dirty Harry and know your colon’s limitations. 

Regardless of any misgivings, the Doritos Locos Tacos represents the pinnacle of fast-food Mexican cuisine.  If you got a hankering for quick south of the border grub, you really can’t go wrong with Taco Bell.  If you want to take a taco to the next level, you can do no better than the Doritos Locos Tacos.  

Posted in Critiques | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Beer Review – Assorted Samuel Adams Winter Suds

Posted by KingShamus on February 29, 2012

Conservatives have a tendency to pine for the good ol’ days, but in at least one area of life we can be thankful to live in modern times:  Beer.  American breweries produce more beer now than at any other time in American history.  The giant US brewers do great business, but microbreweries and craft breweries make up a significant portion of the market.  Not only are domestic brands doing well, but imports continue to have their place in the American beer drinker’s menu.

Taken in total, US beer fans have never had so much volume available for their consumption.  Even better, the vast variety of beers–from inexpensive bender fuel to pricey exotics and everything in between–has never been greater.  The American suds aficionado has such a wide array of choices that almost any taste and budget and occasion can be satisfied.  The state of beer in the United States should be seen as a tribute to the power of consumer choice, competition and a relatively free market.    

One of the best-known American breweries is the Boston Beer Company.  Widely recognized for their award-winning Samuel Adams Boston Lager, they also put out a wide variety of seasonal beers.  Cold weather being a perfect time to drink, I decided to take a few of Samuel Adams’ winter brews out for a test drive.                    

Winter Lager

The WL poured out a rich sparkling reddish-orange color.  It had a fat one-thumb light tan head that stayed around for a while and left nice lacing.  The combination of colors made this was a very handsome beer to look at.  

The aroma was slightly tinny, with some wheat notes thrown in for good measure.  You wouldn’t call it skunky, but it definitely announced itself.  As for the flavor, it didn’t really follow the scent.  Instead, the beginning was very smooth with a nice hoppy flavor up front.  The end was slightly tart, with a hint of lemons.  The mix of tastes felt nicely balanced.  No ingredient really overpowered the others.     

As for mouthfeel, the Winter Lager was thick, but not heavy.  Seasonal beers made for cold temperatures often seem like they’re designed to be overpowering, but this lager didn’t feel like drinking egg nog. It was just a well-built brew for a chilly February afternoon. 

All told the Winter Lager was a delicious glass of suds.  Not surprisingly, it felt like a robust beefed-up Boston Lager. With its tart citrus ending taste to give the drinker a pleasant surprise, this beer compared quite favorably with any other American lager.

Old Fezziwig Ale

The Old Fezziwig Ale presented a ruddy brown coloration, with a light bubbly carbonation.  Its thin one finger bone-colored head left just a little lacing.  Around the edges, the Fezzi bore a slight resemblance to a dark cola.  As for the pour itself, it was comparable to the thickness of most ales.

The aroma was strong and malty.  It wasn’t unpleasant, but one could almost smell the sweetness.  The flavor was predominantly malt again, but here the hops started to assert themselves to cut the sugary taste.  At the finish, a few caramel notes appeared. Not a lot, but just enough to say hello.

Overall, this was a very drinkable beer.  While it was not a lite brew, it felt lighter than it looked.  It was very easy on the eyes and even easier on the palate.  The interplay between the malt start and the caramel ending made this an above average ale. 

Holiday Porter

Next up was the Holiday Porter.  It came out a near-black coloration with a few traces of rusty red when held up to the light.  To be honest, the mountainous two finger thick head was a little surprising.  It stayed around for a while and left a good deal of lacing behind.  Like many Samuel Adams models, this was a pretty beer to look at.

The nose was quite malty; much more than the Old Fezziwig Ale.  It was so malty that I really couldn’t pick out anything else. A faint hint of bananas could be sniffed out, but only a little.  The predominant flavor was strong bitter coffee.  Sadly, that’s pretty much all the Holiday Porter had to offer. 

Was this a drinkable beer?  Certainly.  It might look a little road-tarrish, but it wasn’t sludgy.  The HP was a fairly nimble beer for a porter.  Still, the overpowering flavor was a turn-off.

Chocolate Bock

The Chocolate Bock poured out a blackish brown.  It had a thin hazy head that dissipated fairly quickly.  Lacing was almost non-existent.  The pour was fairly thick.  There was very little carbonation going on. 

There were strong chocolate notes in the aroma.  Surprisingly though, the cocoa was not overwhelming.  It was potent but not obnoxious.  The taste more or less followed the scent.  The Chocolate Bock had a slightly sweet slightly malted beginning.  At the finish, there were dark chocolate flavors. The mouthfeel was a little sludgy.

For a ‘flavored’ beer, the CB wasn’t pushy about its slightly exotic taste.  Yeah, there was quite a bit of cocoa flavor rolling around in the glass, but it’s didn’t really hurt the brew.  The chocolate and the malt seemed to work really well together. Even if it was a bit on the heavy side, it was pretty drinkable.

Black & Brew

Finally, we come to the Black & Brew. Like many of these winter beers, this had a nearly black color with very little differentiation.  Maybe it was the name of the beer, but it looked vaguely like a glass of Turkish coffee. The head was thick and had a french vanilla patina. Spotting was minimal.

The scent was quite malty, with a slight java undertone. At the first sip the coffee flavor is very assertive. If there were any hops going on with the B&B, the coffee taste more than negated them. At the finish, the malt became far more prominent.

Like a lot of stouts, the B&B was much lighter on its feet than it appeared. It may have looked like a sample from a British Petroleum oil spill, but it was a fairly easy-going drink. Again, the coffee flavoring and the malted barley was a nice pairing. Not being a java enthusiast, I went into this beer thinking I wouldn’t like it, but after a few sips the Black & Brew was a very nice little change-up from more conventional suds.

CONCLUSIONS

Let no review of the brewer’s art fool you. The whole point of alcohol is to get you drunk. Any beer, regardless of the brand or label on it, will deliver you to the land of tipsy if you pound enough of it down your gullet. The real success of a beer is not if it can make you inebriated. That’s as easy as Mitt Romney beating his Republican primary opponents by carpet-bombing them with relentless negative ad campaigns. True brew genius lies in getting the drinker hammered in the most pleasant ways possible. With the Samuel Adams winter collection, we can make some definitive statements in that regard.

With the possible exception of the Holiday Porter none of these beers was nasty. In fact, if you like very potent coffee the HP might be tailor-made for your tastes. Regardless of differences in palette, every one of these cold weather beers was a well-crafted concoction. We’re not dealing with Milwaukee’s Beast here.

Out of all these brews, the Winter Lager was the most mainstream beer. Anyone with even just a passing interest in lager drinks would find this pleasant. In fact, while Samuel Adams markets this as a ‘winter’ beer, you could easily drink this during warmer days and get plenty loaded without getting overheated.

The Old Fezziwig Ale was very good as well. While certainly more suited for chilly days, the smooth tandem of malt and caramel made this a winner regardless of the calendar. Pair this beer up with a good meat-n-potatoes meal and you’d be in good shape in no time.

The Holiday Porter was fairly disappointing. The coffee taste did not blend with the barley or the hops. In fact, there was more java flavor in the HP than in the Black & Brew, which was rather surprising. Don’t get me wrong; this beer can and will turn you into a stumbling shit faced buffoon if you annihilate enough of them. But do you really want to do that by having to fight through what tastes like an angry Starbuck’s barista’s bad night at the local strip mall?

As for the Chocolate Bock, that one left me a little puzzled. Beers with unconventional flavorings can be very hit or miss. Also, I haven’t had all that many bock brews, so I wasn’t exactly sure of what I would end up with. What I found was a beer that was a surprisingly good change of pace brew. If the Old Fezziwig was your drink during a mashed potatoes and pot roast dinner, the Chocolate Bock would be the chaser on your triple banana split dessert.

The Black & Brew was a well done piece of brewery science. I halfway expected this to be a some sort of Four Loko alcohol/energy drink clusterfuck. I should’ve known better. Instead of a disaster, the coffee flavor worked well with the traditional stout notes to make a hearty elixir. As with the Chocolate Bock, the B&B was a little too niche to be more than just a seasonal beer. That didn’t keep it from being a very good drink.

In almost every case, the drinker of these Samuel Adams winter beers is given a sturdy well-made bottle of booze. Each one has something to recommend it. None of them are so bad that they are outright undrinkable.  All of them would get you sloshed.  Four out of the five of them range from well above average to damn near great.  Overall, the Samuel Adams Winter Collection does a fine job of upholding the sterling reputation of the Boston Beer Company.

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Beer Review-The Samuel Smith Brewery

Posted by KingShamus on September 6, 2011

Back in February, I reviewed a whole bunch of imported beers.  In the process of getting tipsy on a nightly basis critiquing random foreign brews, I came across Britain’s Samuel Smith brewery and it’s Oatmeal Stout.  Reviewing that bottle of suds was a pleasure.  I figured I’d try to find as many Samuel Smith beers and give them a whirl.

I didn’t hit the Oatmeal Stout again; I stand by my review from the winter.  I was more curious about the Samuel Smith beers I hadn’t gotten a chance to drink.  Would they taste as good as the Stout?  Can Smith Brewery deliver the goods with other types of beers?  Will I enjoy getting tipsy over the course of several weekday nights?

Yes, Yes and YyeEeeEesssssSSsssssSsssssss.

Old Brewery Pale Ale

Ya know, I’m not really seeing a ‘pale’ ale here.    Instead, I get almost a Newcastle Brown Ale vibe.  Like that, this beer has lots of carbonation.  Kinda surprising  amount of fizz, to be honest.  On the initial pour, it almost has the look of a glass of Pepsi.

Thankfully, that vibe goes away pretty quick.  The Pale Ale shows a thin white head that dissipates very quickly.  Lacing is minimal, but I’m not a lunatic for a lot of foam hanging on the glass, so I don’t care.  The burnt red appearance is really quite handsome.  This is a nice beer to look at.

Even better, it’s a nice beer to drink.  The hoppy scent had some bready notes running around in there.  The taste basically follows the aroma.  The beginning is a little sweet, but it had a slightly tinny finish.

Again, is this a ‘pale’ ale?  Eh, maybe.  Does it matter?  Only if you’re a die hard beer purist.  No matter what you call it, it’s a quality beer.

Pure Brewed Lager

I was most curious about Samuel Smith’s Lager.  In my mind, lager suds are the best style of beers.  If a brewery can nail a lager, they can do good business.

In this case, we have a lager that pours out with a frothy white head, over a finger thick.  It leaves some lacing on the glass as it dissipates.   The beer itself is a bright translucent golden orange.  At first sniff, the beer presents a nice floral scent.  Not hoppy per se, and not flowery in an obnoxious way, but just very pleasant.  Unlike the Pale Ale, there was not an exorbitant amount of carbonation.

As for the taste, the beginning is rich.  For a lager, this feels just a little thick.  Still, this is a very drinkable beer.   The beginning is smooth, with a touch of hops.  The finish has just enough bite at the end to make it interesting.  This is a great lager.

Nut Brown Ale

The Nut Brown pours out thick, with a sort of toasted reddish brown coloration.  The head is a thin greyish dirty tan which kinda reminds me of dishwater suds.  I’m not exactly sad that the froth leaves almost no lacing.

Luckily, the aroma is nice and hoppy, which takes my mind off the idea of drinking used sink soap. I’m also detecting hints of caramel.  All in all, the scent is rather complex.

This is a different sort of ale.  It feels quite thick to drink.  Not shockingly, the beginning is very nutty.  I’m catching some shades of walnuts and almonds in the front, which is very cool.  The finish is very bitey.  This might be a little jarring for some drinkers, as the front was pretty smooth.  As for me, I liked it just fine.

Taddy Porter

This is the only beer in this collection that I had drank beforehand.

The porter pours out black.  There is no accent coloration.  Just…none more black.  There is a itsy-bitsy off-white head with little lacing.  I’m not seeing a lot of carbonation going on after the initial pour.  It pours out fairly thick as well.

I dig the scent a lot.  The main vibe here is roasted coffee beans, which are very pleasant.  The flavor follows the aroma. Maybe because I have my fridge’s thermostat set almost as low as it can get, the Taddy is very cold.  This might explain the fact that the beer has an iced java feel.  I’m not a coffee drinker, but this is a delicious beer.

The Porter is also surprisingly light on it’s feet.  For something that pours out like wet cement, you’d think the beer would be almost unbearably heavy.  Instead, I find it just a little thicker than the Lager.

Winter Welcome Ale

Some of you might be wondering why I am reviewing a winter beer in the middle of summer.  I’m kinda surprised by that as well.  In my travels looking for various Samuel Smith beers, I came to a liquor store that had a whole case of the Winter Welcome just laying around.  I figured I’d give it a shot.  The fact that there were so many leftovers didn’t strike me as a good sign.

Because this is a cold season ale, I am drinking this down in my basement, where it gets kinda frosty even in the summer.  Let’s see if that makes this beer work.

The Winter Welcome displays a reddish amber coloration.  Like most of the Samuel Smith brews, we get a thin white head with little lacing.  I’m catching a strong malty scent with some bread notes in there too.

As for the taste, it’s not really spicy like some winter warmer ales.  What it does have is a really hoppy almost tinny bite at the end.  This isn’t all that great.  For the first time, I don’t care for a Samuel Smith product.

To be fair, the alcohol content on this feels high (6% alcohol by volume, so yeah a little stronger than normal) .  I’m definitely getting a little toasty.  This might’ve tasted a slightly better if the temperature was closer to 45 rather than 85.  You definitely feel the buzz with this one, which isn’t the worst thing considering the kinda not-so-rad flavor.

Conclusion

The Samuel Smith Brewery has a fine line of beers.  With the exception of the Winter Welcome, the brews I tried were all very drinkable.  This was sorta surprising because I’m not a huge fan of ales.  The Nut Brown and the Pale Ale were both strong products.  The Taddy Porter was a great beer which packed a few pleasant surprises into the mix.  As for the Pure Brewed Lager, that was one of the best lagers I’ve ever had.

Could you slam these beers?  Fo’ shizzle.  We’re talking about very easy-going beverages.  They’re all quite gentle on the palate and on the stomach.  Even the Winter Welcome, with it’s kinda yucky taste, could be annihilated in fairly short order with little ill effects.  In fact, if you were just looking to get drunk, the Winter Warmer might be the quickest route to get there.  After a pint and half of that stuff, you’d probably stop noticing the taste.

The only issue with the idea of chugging these beers is that they’re a little pricey.  You’re looking at almost $4 for a 1 pint 2.7 ounces of product.  It seems like a waste to use Samuel Smith beer for your next turbo cups tournament.  The Taddy Porter would be sorta out-of-place being the featured suds at a beer pong rally.

But really, who cares?  You pretty much can’t lose with any of these brews in nearly any setting you’d drink them in.  Whatever your preferred style of beer and how ever you choose to enjoy them, this company probably has something good for your quaffing pleasure.  If you like well-crafted beers that get you to HappyLoaded Land in very pleasant ways, Samuel Smith is for you.

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Book Review – “After America” by Mark Steyn

Posted by KingShamus on August 18, 2011

Let’s face facts.  Dystopian non-fiction can be a total buzzkill.  People generally like happy endings in their summer reading.  Most pessimistic interpretations of tomorrow don’t have the kind of emotionally uplifting finale the paying customers are used to.  In tales of the disasters to come, the reader doesn’t often get the relief of a grand reversal of civilizational decline.  The story’s third act usually doesn’t include a great reawakening where the citizenry regain their bearings and right the ship of state just in the nick of time.  Instead, it’s all pandemic death counts, epic societal collapse and lurid Thunderdome scenarios. 

If one is going to travel deep into the territories of pessimism about the future, it helps if the tour guide is quick with the jokes as you pass by the scenic civilizational wreckage. In “After America”, prominent conservative writer Mark Steyn employs his masterful satiric wit and playful use of language to craft the most laugh-out-loud funny postapocalyptic nightmare since his last piece of doom “America Alone”.

In many ways “After America” is the logical extension of Steyn’s older work. “Alone” was the author’s reaction to the 9/11 attacks, the depopulation of Europe and the ascension of Islam in the West.  It’s main theme was that the demographic collapse of native Europeans was not going to occur in a vacuum, that the rise of Eurabia was going to have serious consequences on America’s future.  “After America”, on the other hand, discusses a USA that doesn’t have a future, at least not a future most Americans would want for their country.

What will be the cause of Old Glory’s demise?  Conservatives are familiar with many of the reasons: smothering bureaucracy, insane federal spending, the overwhelming  arrogance of elected officials, the rise of the dependency state.  What Steyn does so well is wrap his worrisome statistics and downward spiral trend lines in jaunty wit.  If a little bit of sugar helps the medicine go down, a healthy shovelful of high fructose corn syrup makes the cure seem like laughing gas, even as the book goes from bleak to bleaker.

What is most bleak isn’t the list of horribles Steyn recites.  These are mere symptoms of the fatal disease.  What really ails America?  It’s not all about the money or the dopey leaders we elect.  It’s the cultural rot that’s killing us.  Ponder this passage:

Incidentally, over half the illegal population supposedly came into America after September 11, 2001.  That’s to say, they broke into a country on Code Orange alert.  Odd that.  Even under the panoptic surveillance of the “security state”, certain identity groups seem to be indulged by Big Government. In California one notices that the same regulatory leviathan that thinks nothing of sending in the heavies if a hardware store is offering complimentary coffee to its customers seems somewhat shyer of enforcing its bazillions of building code/food prep/environmental/health and safety rules against ad hoc mobile kitchens serving piping hot Mexican dishes up and down the highway…

This multicultural squeamishness is most instructive.  Illegal immigrants are providing a model for survival in an impoverished statist America, and on the whole the state is happy to let them do so.

On the surface, the issues wrapped up in illegal immigration involve hard tangible things like borders, fences and security architecture.  Dig deeper and one sees the schizoid nature of a government too eager to punish the rule-abiders and too ready to ignore the rule-breakers.  At the bottom however, it’s about a society that’s so confused it has trouble determining why it has laws or what it would mean to reform them.

Along the way, “After America” doesn’t just point out the ideological incoherence of American life, it names names.  The feckless Barack Obama and the smug incompetent Mike Bloomberg take much deserved lumps but appropriately for a book about culture, the author doesn’t just stick it to our elected leaders.  The whiny liberal thumbsucker Joe Klein and The New York Time’s resident ChiCom fluffer Thomas Friedman–among others in the pantheon of American fail–take their hits in utterly enjoyable ways.  It’s one thing to take the bark off knee-jerk statist tools.  It’s quite another to break down the preening vanity of the cultural vanguard while having a hearty laugh at their expense.

Ultimately, Mark Steyn’s “After America” hasn’t just posited a future we must do everything in our power to avoid.  Although it is a far different book in tone and subject matter, “After America” is just as critical as Mark Levin’s “Liberty and Tyranny” if one seeks to understand the current trajectory of the Untied States.  Most importantly, it gives readers an idea of how to pull away from the brink of disaster and retake their nation.

Update:  Welcome SteynOnline readers!  Glad you could stop on by.  Take a stroll around my site while you visit.  Big thanks to the folks at Regnery.  Most of all, thanks to Mr. Steyn himself for writing a truly landmark book.

 

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Why Ann Coulter Will Always Pwn David Brooks

Posted by KingShamus on July 12, 2011

Robert Stacy McCain posts an interesting video of David Brooks talking smack about Ann Coulter.  I can’t embed the clip–someday somebody is gonna have to tell me how to work teh intertubes contraption–so click on the link if you want to watch it.  First, lets hear from the New York Time’s token house conservative.

David Brooks:  One of the things you have to believe in politics is that the people you disagree with are at least as good as you are.  They have at least, maybe they don’t have as large a piece of the truth as you do, but they have a large piece of the truth, the world is complicated.  Also, I like kittens because they’re soooooooooo adorable, LOL.”

I might’ve botched the last sentence of the quote up just a little.

I’ll be honest.  I can’t hate on David Brooks like RS McCain does.  In fact, Brooks doesn’t infuriate me because he is so monumentally boring.  Transcribing that ten second quote was like popping a few Ambien; watching the whole vid is like washing down a jar of Quaaludes with a fifth of Bowman’s Virginia Vodka while staring at drying paint.

The issue here is the guy’s inherent lameness.  He calls Ann Coulter “…just a show person”, then moments later says she really is like her public persona.  Well, which one is it?  More than likely, he was struggling to find an insult for Coulter and decided to zing her with the ‘mere entertainer’ sneer.  To be fair to Brooks, it wouldn’t be the first time homeboy tried too hard to be Mister Rapier Wit and failed.

Compare David Brooks’  ‘talk a lot, say very little’ style with Ann Coulter’s.  Her latest book, Demonic, is a romp through the leftist mindset.  Far from some kind of political vaudeville act, Coulter’s tome is a well-researched case against modern liberalism.  Besides the fact that she builds her argument on a solid foundation of evidence, Coulter does it with an energy and passion Brooks couldn’t muster on his best day. 

Grab a pillow, throw on your snuggie, then read a Brooks NYT piece

After your siesta, take a gander at any old excerpt of Demonic, pages 181-182.

[Examining the constitutional and political issues surrounding  the 1964 Civil Rights Act] It would be as if, after fighting the Democrats for a hundred years over the issue of abortion, Republicans finally got Roe v. Wade overturned, and then, out of pure political calculation, Democrats jumped on the bandwagon and demanded a federal law outlawing abortion.  Some pro-life Republicans would probably object that federal law outlawing abortion is not one of Congress’s enumerated powers.  On the basis of Republican’s objections, Democrats would then reverse the entire history of the pro-life movement and start claiming the Democratic Party alone fought to end abortion in America.  That is exactly what they have done with the history of civil rights. (emphasis mine)

It becomes painfully clear why David Brooks hates Ann Coulter.  It isn’t that she’s bad for the conservative movement or the American political climate.  It has little to do with Coulter’s brash rhetorical flourishes.  It’s not even that she makes more money than he does.  It’s that he just can’t match her wit, insight and ability.  Instead of acknowledging it, even if only to himself, Brooks just piles on the passive-aggressive snarkage from his increasingly powerless New York Times perch.

It’s one thing to be boring. It’s another thing to be boring and douchey.

Oh yeah:  Go buy Ann Coulter’s Demonic.  She’s still the real deal.  Her book is a barn-burner.  You will not be disappointed.

Posted in Critiques, Media Silliness | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Book Review- “The Wrong War” by Bing West

Posted by KingShamus on June 26, 2011

The Afghan War has been a constant part of America’s political and cultural landscape for almost ten years. Like catching sand in a sieve, victory has been incredibly hard to grasp. The war has bedeviled two presidents, two Secretaries of Defense (soon to be three) and numerous top commanders. Unlike Iraq, where American perceptions have shifted to see it as a victory for the US military, Afghanistan is seen as a confusing morass where winning just might be impossible.

Into this muddled situation comes “The Wrong War” by Bing West.  The author, a former Marine, lays out the details on the ground in stark terms.  By putting himself directly into battles alongside the American and Afghan troops, West gives the reader a view of the fighting from the eye of the soldiers themselves.  West focuses on two areas, the Konar Province in the northeast and the Helmand province in the southwest.  Each has it’s own tribal tensions, linguistic diversity, economic issues, geographical challenges and political difficulties.  

Reading “The Wrong War” makes it clear just how foolish our nation-building efforts have been in Afghanistan.  The country–and calling Afghanistan a ‘country’ is almost comical– is spectacularly unsuited for the kind of Western political reforms we’ve been trying to graft onto it.  West details several ways that Hamid Karzai, our hand-picked ‘democrat’, has undercut much of what we are trying to accomplish.  The battle of Barge Mattal, where Americans fought and bled not to secure a military objective but to secure votes for Karzai’s reelection, is an especially infuriating portion of the book.

In 2009, Karzai put pressure on the American commander General Stanley McCrystal to retake Barge Mattal.  The town, deep in the Nuristan Province and close to the wide-open Pakistan border, served as an optimal location for insurgents to jump between the two countries and conduct operations.  However, Karzai didn’t really care about the military importance of Barge Mattal so much as the political expediency of taking back the town to look tough and get votes. 

This put heavy constraints on what the Americans could and could not do to achieve the mission.  Worse, there was no counterinsurgency goal to be had there.   Instead, the US was forced to land Batallion 1-32 into the middle of Barge Mattal’s ‘punchbowl’ location, surrounded by high cliffs from which the enemy could shoot from the high ground onto the American forces.  Predictably, this resulted in the needless deaths of  American troops.    

West offers Barge Mattal up as an example of the incompetence and corruption of Hamid Karzai’s cronyed-up leadership.  But it’s not just the Afghan elite that is suspect.  The rules of engagement that the Western forces labor under are constructed so poorly that the enemy uses them to their own advantage.  In a stunning passage, West finds himself in a firefight alongside American, British and Afghan security forces against an insurgent group.

“I see one over here, ‘ Cpl. Gareth Robson yelled from a side wall.  Le ran over and peered through his M4 scope at a man dressed in black who was running bent over to the west end of the building, presenting an easy target.

“Should I shoot him?” Le [Ed.-Pfc. Khanh Le] asked me.

“I’m just a writer,” I said. “It’s your call.”

A few meters away, Roxy [Ed.-Sgt. Scott Roxborough, a British soldier] pursed his lips to emit a farting sound, amplified by jeers from the two Marines and several Brits.

“Okay, okay, ” I relented. “In Vietnam, I’d light him up. Now, what’s your ROE?”

“I don’t see a weapon,” Le said.

“Our rule,” Roxy shouted, “is that you have to testify at your hearing that the shooting was justified.”

The absurdity of that conversation is mind-boggling.  “The Wrong War” is littered with the frustration, lost opportunities and senseless American deaths brought about due to horrible ROEs.  Not only do we send our troops into harms way, we readily tie their hands while gleefully patting ourselves on the back for our humanitarianism.  War is already insane; how we have forced our troops to conduct themselves in Afghanistan borders on the suicidal.

When the American armed forces are not busy looking through the Yellow Pages for lawyers to defend them at the court-martial they could be subject to for accidentally farting on an insurgent’s pet goat/next meal/best friend with benefits, the Afghan civilians often do their best to kill our troops as well.

Picture credit: Bing West

The picture above shows Afghan teenagers strewing rocks into the path of the 1-32 during an ambush at the village of Ganjigal.  They did this in order to hem the Americans into a narrow area so that insurgents could have a better chance of killing US forces.  Remember that these are the people the US taxpayer has invested billions of dollars in order to turn them into democrats.  Worse, these are the people the US citizen has sacrificed its sons and daughters in order to turn Afghanistan away from international terrorism. 

Why has Afghanistan gone so horribly wrong?  In West’s estimation, it’s because America has tried to run a counterinsurgency operation that focuses on protecting the civilian population rather than killing the enemy.  This brings into question what the American civilian leadership and the generals believe the US military is meant to do.  The fact that there are people in positions of power who see our military as just a heavily armed Peace Corps is an indictment on the American military command, the civilian leadership and the American voter who puts up with monumentally incompetent leaders talking massively wrong-headed strategies. 

“The Wrong War” is not just a scathing indictment of the current debacle in Afghanistan.  West offers up stories that highlight the tremendous professionalism, deadly skill and selfless courage that are critical assets of our military men and women.  The ambush at Ganjigal might’ve been an unmitigated American tragedy.  Instead, the courageous actions of Corporal Dakotah Meyer–which West documents here–are nothing short of breathtaking.  For every tale of misery in “The Wrong War”, there are incidences of American heroism and resolve that should be part of our national mythos.

Moreover, West offers his solutions for an exit strategy.  The final chapter should be required reading for anybody even remotely connected to the decision-making process in Afghanistan.  His ideas help the American troops maintain their reputation for being the most deadly fighting force on the planet.  Better still, they remove the American military from being pawns of Hamid Karzai and the scumfuck Afghan elite’s tribal machinations.

In light of Barack Obama’s unrealistic dewy-eyed dreamer’s speech last week, “The Wrong War” becomes only that much more vital.  Bing West’s book is a cold honest assessment that counter-balances the President’s partisan political agenda with facts, insight and real workable solutions.  For anybody that cares about the global war on terror, the American military and our national security, “The Wrong War” is vital to understanding where we are now and where we should be in the future.

Posted in Critiques | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

Beer Review-Cricket Hill Brewery

Posted by KingShamus on June 25, 2011

Is it possible for New Jersey to make a good beer?  It would be nice if it did.  So far, the Garbage State is known for urban failure, political corruption, high taxes, mafia families both real and fake, a punishing business climate and sluts.  Oh yeah, and stupid Woodrow Wilson too.  It’s long past time for Joizee to be known for something positive.  For the love of Jeebus, please let these brews be palatable.

Hopnotic India Pale Ale

I’d never had an India Pale Ale, so I went into this with no preconceptions.  Apparently, the IPA brew style has it’s roots in old English colonial life, so it felt almost like quaffing a Kipling poem.  Okay, not really. 

Anyhoo, the poured Hopnotic gave off a handsome light copper color.  There was almost zero head and thus no lacing.  I noticed very little carbonation.  There were hoppy notes up front, but not crazy strong either.  Given the name, I was expecting a lot of hops in the beer’s nose.    

The lack of carbonation made this feel a little heavier than it really was.  The IPA is not a sudsy brew at all.  To be honest, it probably could’ve used a little more fizz.  As for the taste, you get a smooth start with a stiff bitterness at the end.  Not unpleasant, but it most assuredly announced it’s presence.  It definitely got smoother after a few sips.  Polishing this off was a pleasure. 

Overall, the IPA Hopnotic is not bad at all.  If you’re a dedicated India Pale Ale aficionado, this might be not hoppy enough for your tastes.  However, for the average beer drinker this brew could easily fit into his drinking menu. 

East Coast Lager

The East Coast Lager had a a nice orangey amber coloration.  Unlike the IPA Hopnotic there was a decent amount of carbonation.  The head on the ECL was thinnish and it left virtually no lacing. 

The grainy scent was quite pleasant.  On the other hand, the Lager had a bitter front taste which was almost unpleasant.  The difference between the odor of the beer and the beginning flavor was kinda jarring.  It was like jumping into a pool expecting it to be warm and instead having it turn out cold.  Finally, and sort of oddly, it had a fairly smooth finish.

As a lager fan, I found the ECL to be a mixed bag.  It’s definitely a complex beer.  Perhaps a bit too complex for my stupid ass.  It just seems like a lager should be a little smoother than the East Coast Lager.       

American Ale

The American Ale is considered a pale ale.  This did not seem all that pale to me.  Instead, the AA poured out with a nice rosy bronze coloration.  The beer had a thin white head that left ample bubbly lacing clinging to the glass.  It also displayed very active carbonation.  The overall look of the beer was really quite pretty.   

The nose here was grainy, with just a hint of something citrusy.  Perhaps a lime or a grapefruit?  Whatever it was, it was good.  The front taste of the beer was metallic that just bordered on obnoxious.  The finish had a malty sweetness that made up for the tin can beginning.  The average beer drinker could probably pound down a few of these and be reasonably happy.  The AA seemed like one of those beers that would improve with rapidly repeated drinking. 

Jersey Summer Breakfast Ale

I served myself up a glass of Cricket Hill’s Breakfast Beer.  As per the brewery’s suggestion–and who am I to go against Cricket Hill’s brightest ideas?–I drank the breakfast beer with breakfast. 

As for the beer itself, the Breakfast Ale was a murky bronze Belgian pale ale.  It had a thin head that left a little bit of lacing.  I honestly couldn’t really get a bead on the scent.  I think maybe the five eggs and the ham steak was confusing me.  Or maybe I was just confused by getting tipsy at 8:00 AM. 

The flavor was akin to a tin can.  The metallic taste was pretty strong.  The aftertaste was less like licking a sheet of aluminum foil, but you could still taste it.  But ya know what?  I didn’t give a shit.  Beer in the morning is pure win. 

I think of a breakfast beer as something like a Coors Lite; a brew without a lot of heft or fancy-pants attitude.  Just something easy to pound with a hot early morning meal.  The Jersey Summer was light enough to work in the AM hours.  The tinny taste might be a little off-putting to some, but for me it wasn’t awful.  Best of all, the Breakfast Ale tasted better when I had it in the afternoon, so if you don’t want to flirt with mildly alcoholic behavior you can have this beer later in the day.   

Conclusions

Cricket Hill fancies itself as a smallish craft brewery.  That led to some difficulty in tracking down these beers.  CH offers ten brews, but I could barely find four of them.  I would’ve loved to have given their Paymaster’s Porter Ale a test drive, but I just couldn’t dig it up.

The beers are a little stiff on price.  I paid somewhere in the neighborhood of $8 per six-pack.  That could be an issue for some folks looking for sturdy suds at a good value.  If you were not already a fan, you might have a hard time justifying spending that kind of dough.

But what are you getting here?  None of the beers that I tested were below 4.2% alcohol by volume (Cricket Hill doesn’t give an ABV for the Jersey Summer, but I doubt it’s below 4%), so you’re getting a pleasant psychic wet kiss from these potent potables.  That’s still cool.

Out of all the beers I tasted, the IPA Hopnotic was the best.  It was the most drinkable and with the nicest combination of flavors.  The American Ale is well worth a try as well.  The other two could be a little too self-consciously craft beerish for some folks, but even they’re not bad beers.  Cricket Hill is still a young brewery, so the potential for these beers to get even better as they tweak the recipes is certainly there.

In 2011, Cricket Hill has proven itself to be a quality brewery that puts out good beers full of character.  Cricket Hill’s success does not erase New Jersey’s reputation for soul-crushing lameness.  We’re taking about a small batch beer company after all.  On the other hand, the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.  If Cricket Hill keeps pumping out quality suds, it might at least make the Garden State seem less like a crime-infested corruption-centric sweaty armpit of fail.  For Jersey, that would be progress.

So go out and try Cricket Hill’s beers.  They taste pretty good.  They’ll get you drunk.  What else do you want?

Posted in Critiques | Tagged: , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Beer Review: Here’s The Fru-Fru Imports

Posted by KingShamus on February 3, 2011

Winter, like every other time of the year, is perfect for beer.  Besides beer being a certified health food, it’s a great complementary beverage for many hearty cold weather dishes.  While some may prefer a good stiff whiskey concoction during the depths of our frozen hell,  I find beer can be just as refreshing and quite a bit smoother to boot.

Back in the summer, I took a gander at Leinenkugel.  This time around, I decided to review some imports.  How did I choose these beers?  Hell if I know.  Basically, I went to a liquor store and bought some random beers that looked cool and had foreign-looking squiggles on them.  Let’s see if these waaaaay out-of-town brews are actually drinkable.

Innis & Gunn

The I&G is an English Ale with a handsome translucent amber coloration.  It had a thin head that left no lacing.  The scent was a little skunky with an undercurrent of wood chips.  There was definitely a weird combination of things going on in the aroma.

Once you get to the taste, you’ll forget all about the skunkiness.  There was a strong ale flavor with faint hints of caramel.  The finish was almost like a good single malt scotch.  Turns out the beer is aged in oak barrels.  That process gives Innis & Gunn a very unique edge.  I’ve never tasted a beer quite like this before.

I was sorta surprised by just how polarizing this beer was when I drank it with some of my homies.  For instance, my father thought it was quite good.  On the other hand one buddy of mine, who is a knowledgeable beer fan, said it tasted like dirt.  I think because this is such a different type of brew, with a fairly complex mix of flavors, that a lot of people can have really different reactions to it. 

In any case, I liked this ale a lot.  A savory drink for sure and definitely worth the three dollar and change price tag.  

Moosbacher Lager

Up next was a German lager.  Moosbacher poured out with a pale amber color and a very thin head.  The foam quickly dissipated, leaving minimal lacing.  The aroma was hoppy, but fairly subtle.  The taste was smooth, with a wheat-ish flavor.   It had a relatively short finish with a nearly nonexistent bite. 

To be honest, I found this almost too polite.  There was absolutely nothing wrong with the beer.  But there was nothing terribly distinguished about it either.  I realize that Moosbacher is supposed to be an easy-going beer.  The thing is, a drinker can easily get a reasonable facsimile of this brew.  A domestic lager would be less expensive than the $2.99 pint bottle I bought.  More importantly, the domestic would probably present the same basic experience as the Moosbacher.

One thing I really dug?  The flip top bottle was pretty cool.  It gave the beer an ol’-skool charm.  It wasn’t enough to win me over, but it did catch my eye enough to convince me to buy it in the first place.  Maybe Moosbacher knows what they’re doing when it comes to presenting their product to the public.

Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout

After the Moosbacher came a dark English stout.  Like darker than a ditch-digger’s ass levels of dark.  Like Guinness on horse steroids kind of dark.  Like Biblical blotting out the sun type of dark.  Rad.

Topping off the black on black booze was a thin creamy head that left behind some lacing.  More impressive was the aroma.  I caught a very potent coffee scent with some chocolatey notes in there as well.  There was some really subtle carrot cake notes going on too, which was unexpected to say the least.  Pretty complex stuff to be sure.  This beer had me all kinds of twisted up, but in a good way. 

As for the taste, there was a lot to like with the Samuel Smith.  Not surprisingly, the smokey oats dominated this brew.  The malty coffee aftertaste was strong, but not obnoxious at all.  This is going to sound a little strange, but I almost got a gourmet frozen coffee vibe, which was pretty cool.     

I really dug this beer.  I’m not a coffee drinker, but the Oatmeal Stout’s java feel was neat as hell.  It’s not a pounding beer at all, but then again, it’s not designed for that.  Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout was made for a more drawn-out enjoyment. 

In fact, I’d say this is the best stout I’ve ever had.

Deal with that, Guinness.

Schneider Aventinus Weizen Eisbock

I’ve never had an eisbock before, so this was a new sort of brew for me. 

The Aventinus poured out dark, with some rosey pigmentation around the edges.  It was a syrupy pour as well, almost like a thin cough medicine.  The beige head was thick and foamy, but went away quick.  I didn’t see much lacing.  The aroma was malty, but with more than a few fruit notes in there as well.  It was hard to nail down exactly what’s happening with the aroma on this eisbock.

The flavor was a really odd mix.  There was a full banana presence up front, with hints of cinnamon too.  It was a little bitter at the end, with a touch of coffee.  It’s not something I was entirely used to, but it was not unpleasant either.  The Aventinus is a beer that grows on you as you drink it.  Maybe because three quarters of the way through it, you’re three quarters loaded.  

This is a very full bodied beer.  At 12% alcohol, this isn’t a beer for the dieters.  At 12% alcohol, this could be dangerous if you think you’re just gonna pound a sixer and roll like it’s nothing.  At 12% alcohol, the Aventinus also kicks major ass.   What we have on our hands is a rich brew that you can happily take for a leisurely stroll down Tipsy-n-Chuckling Lane and easily meander straight on through to Shitfaced Boulevard and then finally end up on BangingLastCallBroads Street in no time flat.                   

Newcastle Brown Ale

Surprise surprise; ’twas a British brown ale I was a-drinkin’.  I had seen this beer at bars and restaurants quite often but never got around to trying it.  I figured this was a good time to take this import for spin.

Funny thing is that the Ale was brown like a soda–not beerish at all–with a lot of bubbles hanging around in the brew.  The clear glass bottle gave it a definite Coca-Cola vibe.  Unlike a soft drink the Newcastle poured like a beer and left a thick head.  After a quick dissolve, the foam hung around the edge of the glass for a while.

The aroma was faintly hoppy.  Maybe there was some malted notes going on here; I couldn’t quite tell.  As far as the taste, I caught some oats up front and a slight metallic after-taste. Not horrible, but at the same time not terribly exciting.

The Newcastle Brown Ale is not a bad beer.  If you found this on tap at a bar, you could do a lot worse than this.  If you had to have an import, this wouldn’t kill you.  On the other hand, unless this is your beer there’s not much going on with this one.  The Ale is a nice slam-it-down beer, with a little British character thrown in to the mix, but not so fantastic that you absolutely must try it.

Weihenstephaner Festbier

Here we have a German Oktoberfest brew with a pale opaque bronze color and a very thin head.  If you were looking for some lacing, this had very little.  The aroma was quite hoppy.  I couldn’t pick up much else besides the hops. 

The taste was metallic; we’re talking a full-on aluminum start.  The finish was skunky.  It was a sturdy brew for sure, but with nothing else going on to mitigate the tinny flavor, I found it pretty mediocre. 

The one good factor with the Weihenstephaner Festbier is the pleasantly high inebriation quotient.  I only had one of these things, but I was a little wobbly just the same.  A few of these would get the average drinker drunk with relative ease. 

Conclusions

Whether it was via dumb luck or divine intervention, my brainless grabbing of random beers turned up more winners than losers.  Each batch of suds had it’s own unique character.  No brew tasted like the other, which is always cool.  Moreover, all these imports did exactly what a beer is supposed to do, which is to get the drinker intoxicated.

The real question isn’t whether these beers can get a person drunk.  It’s how enjoyable the beer makes the ride to inebriation.  Here’s where we can make some definite conclusions.

Of the beers I sampled, only the Festbier was actually unpleasant to taste.  The metallic flavor was disappointing, even as the beer was getting me tipsy.  If you drank two of these, you would stop noticing the taste by about the end of the second bottle.  But fighting through that first one isn’t for novice beer aficionados.  Or maybe only amateur drinkers should be forced to drink this stuff as they don’t know any better.  Whatever the case, I advise you to be careful with the Festbier.

The Newcastle Ale and the Moosbacher Lager were both decent.  But there was nothing in these two drinks that grabbed your attention.  As a person who normally likes lagers, the Moosbacher just felt very ho-hum to me.  When it came to the Ale, the soda feel got in my head a little.  You could easily slam this beer while hanging out with friends, but that’s pretty much it.

Moving on to the Eisbock, this was a little unusual for me as I had never had this kind of beer before.  I’d gladly have another.  The Aventinus is full-bodied and uncompromising.  It aims to fuck your shit up and does just that with extreme prejudice, while at the same time giving you some different flavors and textures to boot.  It’s not for everyone, but it’s definitely worth a try.

I was mightily impressed with the Innis & Gunn as well.  The combination of a complex beginning taste with the scotch ending was pretty awesome.  I suppose you can get the same thing from a boilermaker, but the transition between the two flavors was seamless.  We got a real winner on our hands with the I & G.

For my tastes, the best of this very divergent bunch was the Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout.  This is gonna sound like heresy to some people, but Samuel Smith out-Guinnessed Guinness.  Don’t get it twisted; Guinness is damn good.  But the Oatmeal Stout was just better.  It had a more complex flavor, a richer aroma and was smoother than Guinness.  If you like stouts, this is a must-try brew.  If you just like beer in general, this English offering creates a very cool vibe.  It can be a fine complimentary piece for a hearty dinner or drank all by itself.  You really can’t go wrong  with the Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout.

Posted in Critiques | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Blog De KingShamus’ Greatest Hits 2010 Edition

Posted by KingShamus on January 1, 2011

“Hits”?  There were hits here?

Yeah, this is pretty lame, but whatevs. 

Here some of what I thought I did that was halfway decent.

Berkeley City Council Continues To Meet Expectations

Dhimmitude, Surrender, Art Part 2

Why 2011 won’t be 1995

Black Folks-Come Back Home

When Barry Wet Johnnie

Saturday’s Jon Runyan GOTV Effort: Reactions

El Té Fiesta-Hispanic Conservatives

Celebrities, Twitter and the nature of the debate

A Tale of Two Campaigns-Democrats and Republicans in 2010

Fiscal Conservatism can advance Social Conservatism

Obama: ‘We can absorb a terrorist attack’

The RINO-Less Than Useless

Is America Radical? Totally.

Best Jihadist Beard Award (2010) Goes To…

Steal Jesse Jackson’s Ride!

Conservatism, Political Ads, Art-Ace Interviews Ladd Ehlinger, Jr

Welcome to the party, David Brooks

I have to issue an apology/retraction

Movie Review-The Expendables

You wanna see a total buzzkill?

Michael Totten on the Iranian psycho-regime

Thanks for nothing, David Klinghoffer

Conservative Blogging-Cooperative, Not Coordinated and Quite Singular

King Samir Shabazz-Just A Symptom

Libertarians and Conservatives-Sorry, you’re stuck with each other

Afshan Azad gets an attempted honor killing; feminists and celebutards oddly silent

Black Women and Abortion

Leinenkugel: Reviewing A Family of Beers

Senator Robert Byrd-RIP

Criminal Negligence? Obama and the EPA boffed the pooch

The Triple Down Dare-DONE

So What Does Miss USA Rima Fakih Mean?

Comedy Central’s Tight Leash

Times Square Would-Be Bomber: Totally not a Muslim Terrorist

Mike Huckabee keeps showing off his big brain

Reaction to the 2010 Tax Day Tea Party

Black folk aren’t lynched at Tea Parties? Who knew?

Noted Teen Lesbian Gets A Skinned Knee

Utopia: Not just yet

Climategate star Phil Jones digs his own hole

Shocker Poll: Socialism is super-cool amongst American socialists

Spoke & Wheel v. The Pyramid: Executive Leadership

Awww: Ezra Klein is emo

When you lose ObamaGirl

Tim Tebow: The pro-life quarterback

Communists are media whores

Happy New year, Blog De KingShamus readers.  Thanks for stopping by and shooting the breeze with me about politics, life and culture and crap and stuff and crap.  Let’s make 2011 awesome.

Posted in Chuckles, Critiques, Domestic Happenings, Foreign doings, Media Silliness, Politicians behaving badly, RIP, The Social Scene | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Tale of the Tigers-Impressions

Posted by KingShamus on November 16, 2010

I dunno if I’ve mentioned this before, but FYI–a great blogger has become a great author.  I just finished “Tale of The Tigers”.  It’s a tremendous piece of writing.    

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng, who writes great commentary under the nom de blog Baldilocks, recently took the plunge and published her debut novel.  And what an interesting first swing of the bat Ms. Ochieng takes.

“Tale of The Tigers” is a story of two college kids who fall in love.  It’s about race and racism.  It’s a time capsule of the early 90’s.  It looks at the dynamics of family relationships.  It examines sex and sexuality.  It reassess sacred cows of the cult of the politically correct.  It makes important statements about friendship, loyalty and trust.

Like her blog writing, Ms. Ochieng’s novel is chock full of subtleties.  Her characters could’ve turned into cardboard cut-outs.  Instead, the folks that inhabit “Tale” are flesh and blood people, full of admirable traits and painful weaknesses.  The outline of the plot never devolves into a cliché romance.  Thankfully, Baldilocks takes the story in unexpected directions.  “Tale” studiously avoids telegraphing it’s punches, which makes for an exciting read.                     

Beyond these great things, for me the best part of the book is the fact that the story stays with you long after you’ve finished it.  You’ll find yourself replaying sequences from the book in your mind.  Moreover, you’ll catch yourself pondering the book’s themes long after you’ve put it down.                  

In short, “Tale of The Tigers” is a damn fine piece of work from a writer with a powerful voice.  Get in on the ground floor, folks.  Buy the book.  You won’t regret it.

Cross-posted at Baldilocks.

Posted in Critiques, The Social Scene | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Music Review: “Songs For Singles” by Torche

Posted by KingShamus on November 5, 2010

The Florida band Torche has been making quite sludgy yet somehow very poppy noise for the better part of the last decade.  Since 2004, the band has been mining a down-tuned heavied-up vein of accessible metallic doom.  If that sounds sorta confusing, it’s meant to be.  It’s also part of the group’s charm.

Their latest EP, Songs for Singles, sees the band continuing on the same course as their previous album, Meanderthal.  However, there is enough progress and differentiation to give long-time fans something new to chew on.  Possibly the most important change is the loss of Juan Montoya, their ace lead guitarist.  Without Montoya around to throw different textures and fills into the songs, the music takes on a meatier, riffier feel.  This has both negative and positive consequences. 

“U.F.O.” is a pummeling showpiece for the band’s power as a three-piece.  Rick Smith’s bruising snare drum perfectly compliments Steve Brooks’ dreamy vocal delivery.  “Cast Into Unknown”, a fast and punky two-minute slam, needs no accoutrements or frills to rock out.  Finally, “Face The Wall” is a terse minor-key burner that vaguely recalls the group’s earlier “Sundown”.  Here Brooks explores the possibility of merging his doom-metal instincts with a less heavy more atmospheric feel.  The experiment works brilliantly at creating a vaguely ominous climate. 

For all the good points of the EP, there are some tunes that could’ve used Montoya’s assistance.  “Out Again” features a great guitar riff and a soaring vibe, but the long-winded outro desperately needs a screaming lead solo to really button down the song.  Instead, the song sorta toddles off into the sunset.  What could’ve been a masterpiece is instead just really cool.

But don’t let these niggling details frighten you away.  This is still a worthwhile EP from a very good band.  If you’re already a Torche fan, this will comfortably hit the spot.  If you’re new to the band, this is a pretty good starter kit.

Posted in Critiques | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Movie Review-The Expendables

Posted by KingShamus on August 23, 2010

The action movie is a tired old genre.  It’s male-centric in extremis, simplistic and violent.  The bad guys are unfailingly horrid.  The good guys are unflinchingly decent.  That’s what many of the important critics say about this red-headed stepchild of the motion picture industry.

Into the teeth of that widespread critical opinion marches “The Expendables”, starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li and a whole host of Hollywood tough guys. 

The movie tells the story of a team of mercenaries who do heavy duty wet work for profit.  Tasked by a shadowy CIA operative named Church (Bruce Willis, in a fun cameo) with taking out a military dictator in the (fictional) South American island country of Vilena, Barney Ross (Stallone) and Lee Christmas (Statham) do reconnaissance on the situation.  They soon find the job complicated by the presence of Sandra (Giselle Itié), their contact for the mission who also happens to be the daughter of General Garza (David Zayas), the leader of Vilena.  Garza is not only a thug, he’s also wrapped up in a cocaine running scheme with rogue American intelligence agent James Munroe (Eric Roberts).  In between all that, the viewer is treated to generous servings of fire fights, double-crosses, fisticuffs, car chases, gun porn and male bravado.

So no, we’re not dealing with the second coming of “Hamlet” here.  But we are confronted with an unpretentious, expertly crafted movie that does exactly what it means to accomplish.  Not only that, you get shitloads of manic fun.

Watch Stallone and Co. run around blowing stuff up and kicking massive amounts of ass.  After that, go ahead and sit through pretentious hand wringing anti-American slop like “The Bourne” movies.  If Barney Ross and his crew of mercs inhabit a cartoonish un-reality, Jason Bourne occupies a universe that is just as divorced from our world as the one created in “The Expendables”.  The only difference is that Stallone’s story-and Stallone himself-makes no bones about the escapism of the film.  After self-important deadly-dull serious ‘action’ movies like “Syriana” or “Green Zone”, it’s incredibly refreshing to watch a flick that knows exactly what it’s supposed to be.

“The Expendables” is not perfect.  Dolph Lundgren still can’t act.  Eric Roberts still chews the scenery.  Stallone still can’t enunciate.  But these are trivialities.  In the positive, Sly can write a rousing yarn.  He can direct action sequences with the best filmmakers out there.  One more really nice thing:  the CGI stuff that has seemingly taken over every movie put out by Hollywood nowadays is reasonably unobtrusive.  What a relief.

Best of all, Stallone puts his cast into perfect situations for their abilities.  None of the cast is going to be found in the next Henrik Ibsen revival.  But each (male) role gets a chance to shine in some way.  The fight between Jet Li and Lundgren manages to be funny and serious all at once.  Toll Road’s (Randy Couture) insecurity is good for a laugh.  Hale Ceasar’s (Terry Crews) gun fetishization is kinda scary but also really hilarious.  Mickey Rourke is given a quiet introspective moment that ties the movie together.  The friendly ball-busting chemistry between Christmas and Ross is a winning part of the movie’s formula.

Oh yeah, and while doing all that, “The Expendables” still manages to hit all the right action movie notes in the most satisfying ways.  You want explosions?  Stallone’s second language is ‘Massive Fireball with an Accent From the Kaboom Region of BlowUpLand ‘.  You need some hot babes?  Charisma Carpenter and Giselle Itié are really easy on the eyes.  Got a hankering for guns?  The film doubles as an NRA recruitment video.  Interested in seeing bad guys get their just desserts?  Ross’ team kills the fucking shit out of dudes in an assortment of gleefully gory and totally rockin’ ways.

If you understand what “The Expendables” is meant to do, you will not be disappointed.  To hell with the critics and their twinkish stupid opinions.   See this movie and know the enduring charm of a well-made action adventure movie.

Posted in Critiques | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Tosh.0 Human Centipede Spoiler Alert

Posted by KingShamus on August 11, 2010

Daniel Tosh saves you the trouble of seeing this obnoxiously stupid movie.

I can’t embed the video…yes sorry I’m a computer-unsavvy retard…but here’s the link.  It’s the most hilarious spoiler ever.  Trust me. 

I remember hearing about “Human Centipede” a few months ago, seeing the trailer and thinking how truly desperate the writers of this flick must’ve been to come up with something so unrelentingly dumb. 

The best horror movies create worlds that at least sorta resemble our own.  There is at least a patina of realism to even the most fantastic scary stories.  The trailer for “Human Centipede” made it clear that this flick occupied an absurd netherworld where the rules of gravity, human physiology and common sense could be jettisoned at any moment to serve the interests of this boneheaded plot.  Yet at the same time, the movie wanted the viewer to take all that very seriously.

If a horror movie is done correctly, the viewer is able to forgive the occasional flight of fancy.  “Silence of the Lambs” was a tremendous flick, but the scene where Lechter eviscerates the guards…crufiying one and de-facing another in the process in order to escape…stretched my credulity just a bit.  Even though that part of the movie was unrealistic, I was able to let it go because the rest of the film didn’t abuse the shit out of the laws of the universe it had spent the last hour and a half forging.

“Human Centipede” couldn’t be bothered to even kinda sorta resemble reality.  As gross as the movie’s concept is, it felt more like a bad parody of a horror flick.  More, because the film is so self-serious, it can’t even be taken as a fun campy b-movie thriller. 

In any event, I’m just glad somebody else decided to rip “Human Centipede” a new asshole.  Good job, Daniel Tosh.

Posted in Chuckles, Critiques | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Tacky Movie Alert-Doomsday

Posted by KingShamus on August 8, 2010

Ooooooh wow, kids.

I’m surfing through the channels and I find “Doomsday”, a 2008 flick with Rhona Mitra and Malcolm McDowell.

God God, this movie doth blow.  Bloweth hard it does.

Don’t get me wrong:  Rhona Mitra looks damn good, even with the dopey future-gal haircut and “movie tactical” wardrobe.  She’s an actress with a wide assortment of expressions, specifically two…annoyed anger and angry annoyance. 

Everybody else is sleepwalking their way to a paycheck.  If I see Bob Hoskins take yet another crusty but well-meaning cop, I’ll barf.  Oh wait, there he is, playing a crusty but well-meaning cop.

It’s sooooooo all over the place.  Whoever wrote this pile of dog shit basically took bits and pieces of older better movies and threw them in at random.  You’ve got a little  “Mad Max”, a dash of  “28 Days Later”, even some “Lord of the Rings”, then the flick puts the blender on the ‘gorey yet not fun’ setting and leaves it sit for about two hours too long. 

The bad guy…or should I say…the main bad guy…Jeeeeeebus, the movie just can’t get it’s head out of it’s asshole…is straight out of “Mad Max”.  It’s pathetic what a rip-off this character is.   

Now we’re all of the sudden in jolly old Medieval England.  How the fuck did we get here?  Seriously, we were in the 21st century two seconds ago.  Okee-Dokee movie, I guess you know what you’re doing.

Hey, there’s Malcolm McDowell.  Annnnnnnnd poof, now he’s gone.  He’s supposed to be the key guy that Mitra’s character is supposed to find.  He’s so important, he’s in the flick for about 7 minutes.

Wow, now we’re back in the present and Rhona Mitra’s driving a Bentley, being chased by the ‘Road Warrior’ rejects.  The bad guy with the budget leather daddy costuming dies and now Rhona Mitra has to fight the other bad guy, a slick corporate meanie.  Whatever.  I’m officially tapping out on this one. 

Don’t see “Doomsday”.  It’s everything bad and nothing good.  Not even a scantily-clad Rhona Mitra and her nice knockers. 

Bail out, avoid, run away…from Doomsday.

Posted in Critiques | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Leinenkugel: Reviewing A Family of Beers

Posted by KingShamus on July 5, 2010

Well, at least the members of the family I could hunt down.  My dad introduced me to Leinenkugel a few months back.  I had never heard of the company before but after pounding a few with my pops, I was stoked.  So then I figured I’d review however many of these beers as I could dig up.

First up, the Classic Amber.

Hey, you guessed it-it’s a red lager.  Bonus? A frothy head.  It’s almost got a caramel beginning taste which is not bad at all.  The bitey aftertaste is pretty potent too though not in a good way.  It’s almost metallic and it almost overpowers the whole brew.  But all in all, it’s not a bad beer by any stretch of the imagination.  It’s certainly not the smoothest brew I’ve ever had, but it’s not Milwaukee’s Best either.   

Next was Creamy Dark.

It looked a teensy bit lighter version than Yuengling’s Black & Tan.  Leinenkugel calls this a lager, but I didn’t get much of that characteristic lager-ish taste.  Instead, the beer presents a fairly smooth start and a coffee finish.  It had a hoppy aroma too, which added to the goodness.  I found it slightly reminiscent of a Guinness stout, but with far less of that viscous road tar feeling. 

Then I tried the Sunset Wheat.

While it’s not a low calorie beer, I found it to be very light.  As I was drinking it, it didn’t seem to fill my stomach as the other brews had.  It had a nice zingy flavor at the end, yet still nice and smooth.  There was some citrus-y, almost orange notes in there as well.  This is a very easy beer to drink.  Very pleasant.  Leinenkugel markets this is a summer beverage and after having a few of these wrapping up some hot June/July days, I’d say they nailed it.  

For me, this is the most drinkable beer of the ones I tasted.

I followed the Sunset Wheat with the Honey Weiss.

It’s got a pale amber color and a definite honey scent.  I thought I’d be hit by a ton of sweetness, but instead we’ve got another easy drinking brew.  This goes down pretty easy.  There are subtle honey notes at the finish that thankfully don’t overpower the general presentation.  It’s not a bad beer, but to be honest it strikes me as a little bland.  Don’t get  it twisted.  If you were having a party and decided to serve this, most people would be perfectly fine because it’s got a little something for everybody.  But if you want a more full bodied taste, this isn’t the drink for you.    

If you want something decidedly not bland, try the Summer Shandy on for size.

The Shandy pours out in a yellowy haze with a smallish head.  The smell of lemons is very noticeable.  The taste of lemons is even more noticeable.  There is almost no hops or barley presence to the brew.  Instead, the lemons take up pretty much the entire taste.  It’s got a smooth finish, which worked well with the strong beginning. 

This was a very polarizing beer.  Some of my friends thought it was a great change-of-pace beer.  Others thought it was a sour Smirnoff Ice wannabe malt drink.  I fall somewhere in the middle.  If you have to drink a beverage that tastes like a beer, head in the opposite direction of Summer Shandy.  If your definition of a refreshing alcoholic drink is a little more broad, this beer will probably be an interesting change of pace. 

Finally, I gave the Berry Weiss a shot.

Like the Shandy, the BW is a beer built around a fruit.  In this case, the drinker gets what tastes like blackberries.  The brew pours out purpley-red with a thin off-white head.  The beer gives off a very potent berry smell.  Like in the case of the Shandy, the taste of the Berry Weiss is once more dominated by the fruit rather than the hops or the grains of a regular beer, especially at first sip.  For a beer this is awfully sweet, but surprisingly not awful tasting.  It’s packs a very faint wheat-ish finish which is not unpleasant.  The problem for me is that I can’t imagine being able to drink more than a few of these because it is so sugary.

Again, this is a beer that will be sure to raise some eyebrows.  Some people are just not going to dig this because it simply doesn’t taste like a beer.  Others…and I can’t help but think that these fruit beers are aimed at the female demographic…will probably like really take to this brew.  I myself didn’t hate it, but I’m not going out of my way to buy it again either. 

CONCLUSIONS

For me, if a beer works like it’s supposed to, it generally falls into two basic categories.  You have your genteel well-mannered beers that you drink just to catch a subtle psychic wet kiss.  They’re meant to take the edge off of life’s little annoyances, like having to talk to the aging liberal hippy douche neighbors or road signs.  These are suds you sip, nursing them along for a while to catch a gentle but insistent buzz.  Then you have your pounders.  Beers in this range should taste decent to good, but they don’t have to be awesome.  They’re the brews you shotgun, rock a kegstand with, use to play beer-pong, drink to gain liquid courage for a bar fight or whatever leisure activities you feel you gotta do in order to blow off steam and ensure a raging puke-filled hangover the next day.   

Why don’t we let Dave Chappelle/Samuel Jackson explain what a pounder means?

By the way, these silly made-up-by-me categories are not mutually exclusive distinctions.  Often a beer will do the job in either classification.  In fact, the best beers are those that can be drank for every day enjoyment or for enjoyment with extreme prejudice.  

Anyhoo, most of Leinenkugel’s beers fall into the former category.  The Classic Amber has a nice alcoholic kick to it, but the aftertaste probably slows the average two-fisted drinking down too much to do any binge pounding.  The Creamy Dark is a very nice beer for a semi-fancy meal, but it feels like it would be a shame to just annihilate a couple of six’ers on a Turbo Cups tournament.  The Summer Shandy and Berry Weiss are sorta oddball brews.  Both have such goofy non-beer flavors.  In the case of the Berry Weiss, the sweetness of the thing would seem to eliminate brainless chugging.  The Shandy’s tart lemony aroma and taste may be suitable fo’ da ladies, but they’re probably no good for your next kegger.  The Honey Weiss feels like a macro-brew concoction with a twist.  It could be a decent everyday beer.  It could also be slammed down with ease.  But I found it almost too smooth for it’s own good.

No, the best of the bunch was the Sunset Wheat.  It was mellow to drink, but it had great character as well.  It could be an easy-going regular drink.  It could be your binge beer of choice.  While the other brews have their place in a well-balanced beer drinking diet , Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat delivers boozey fun no matter how you drink it.

UPDATE:  Welcome Other McCain Readers!  First of all, Leinenkugel is brewed in Wisconsin, so yeah it’s a foreign beer.  As for the subtle insinuation that I’m light in the loafers, that’s just crazy talk.  Now, if you will excuse me I’m going to finish up my interior design/hairdressing double major master’s thesis.

FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAABUUUUUUUUUULOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted in Critiques | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

 
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