Monday, October 27, 2008

Brutal hockey hit.

Saturday's Hurricanes/Islanders game saw an absolutely awful headshot on 19-year-old Carolina Hurricane Brandon Sutter.


Hospitalized overnight, and released today. More neurological tests will be completed in Raleigh. It was technically a legal hit. It's a fine line: Doug Weight's arm did not come up and rise to make the hit because Sutter's head lowered as he poked at the puck. But a headshot occurred anyway, knocking the kid out cold. A game this fast it's hard to stop that momentum. A shot to the head wasn't the intent, but it happened. Does the offender get penalized by the league even if malicious intent is not there? Whatever the outcome with the league office, it's a brutal hit.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Khaled Hosseini

Our first lecture in the newest year's installment of the Guilford College series was Friday night: Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. The Afghanistan native and his family were relocated to Paris by the Afghan Foreign Ministry in 1976. In 1980, the family was to return to Afghanistan, but instead were granted asylum in the United States to flee the Soviet invasion. He then earned a medical degree and practiced medicien from 1996 to 2004. He had then fallen head first for his first love: writing. The Kite Runner was published in 2003 and thereafter made into a film; and A Thousand Splendid Suns published in 2007. He has since been named envoy to the United Nations Refugee Agency.

He spoke of his life, his books, and the process involved in publishing those books. Afghanistan was "old news" literary agents told him over The Kite Runner, the "headline" at the time was Iraq now. His books were the first to really showcase the Afghan people in a light other than terrorist, Taliban, refugees, or dealers in the narcotics trade. He spoke of current events in his native land, and the positives and negatives of a U.S. military presence there. The window of opportunity to save the country may be closing, he believes. But the Afghans are a fiercely independent nation. Once the U.S. is seen as an occupier and not a guest, all hope will be lost.

An intriguing insight into one man's view of his homeland and its place on the world stage. Fascinating.

Vintage Hop (2007) Pale Ale

Once early voting was completed, and a celebratory lunch at Natty Greene's was consumed (8.5% Imperial Pilsner to be released on Halloween by the way), it was back home to set up the equipment in the driveway. "What equipment?" you may ask? Why let's brew some beer and smoke some meat.

Guests to our humble abode inquire as to the beery selections made available to them. Let's see...smoked porter, honey molasses porter, Gordon Lightfoot Porter, porter porter porter. Lighter styles are sometimes asked for, and sadly there are times those requests cannot be honored. So a lighter beer, a pale ale, was brewed to satisfy the masses.

"Vintage Hop?" you may ask? One of the ingredients was the last gallon freezer bag full of Cascade hops from the 2007 harvest. This was thrown into the kettle at flame-out. A "prepackaged kit" was purchased at Triad Homebrew Supply, so no dry malt was used. Rather, two cans of liquid malt extract were included. Sometimes the liquid, if it's old, can impart an off-flavor, but the kit purchased had new labeling on it, so if it's new to THS, it's new inside the kit.

The goods:

The malt extract is in warm water on the stove until needed to assist in the pour. When cold, it's thick and hard to remove from the can. Brewing went well...outside of forgetting to turn on the cold water hose for the heat exchanger! Gah! So the first gallon transferred over just as hot as it was in the brew kettle. Stupid, stupid, stupid. The scary addition of some unsanitized ice cubes through the carboy neck and the luck of a chilly 45 degree evening helped bring down the temperature better. (The additional 4 gallons sufficiently cooled via the heat exchanger did not bring down the temp of that first boiled gallon at all.) Fermentation kicked off as usual by the morning, so any thought of bacterial infection from the dirty ice should be erased. I hope.

In the books.

The scene: the old Guilford County Courthouse in downtown Greensboro, NC.

The reason: early voting.

Half of the legally eligible members of The House of Gordon cast their ballot Thursday in early voting. 45 minutes total from entrance to exit. Everything ran smoothly with no glitches. Add one vote in the "Hope" column for a certain senator from the great state of Illinois. Add one vote to send Greensboro's state senator Kay Hagan to Washington to oust the worthless Elizabeth Dole. Once all the races were voted upon, a full few minutes were spent just staring at the electronic voting screen. Clinton, Gore, Kerry, none of those votes really brought upon a welled-up sense of pride and joy that staring at that "Barack Obama / Joe Biden, Democrat" box did.

Whoever your candidate is, whatever your affiliation may be, whatever your views are, just VOTE.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I demand fruit. Five pounds of it.

Chris racked the base wheat beer that was brewed October 14th onto 5 pounds of raspberries tonight. It was rather labor- and time-intensive to squeeze the fruit through the neck of the carboy basically one spoonful at a time. 5 pounds....1 spoonful at a time. Just 2 hours in the carboy and already a pretty pinkish hue is beginning to take effect:

After that per the photo on the left, just not as thrilling nor labor-intensive, the Chocolate-Vanilla Imperial Stout was bottled. Smelled TERRIFIC. A net of 51 twelve-ounce bottles. Nice.

Raspberry racking and chocolate stout bottling all completed after work and before first pitch of the World Series tonight? Life is good.

Political priapism

Bill Maher on MSNBC's Hardball today? Television ambrosia for the Gordons...

Monday, October 20, 2008

McCain's Brain

Embedding these videos into the blog took forever to load when you wanted to play them. So instead, do your civic duty and click on the links to enjoy this historical archive of the three 2008 presidential debates.

Debate #1:

Debate #2:

Debate #3:

Sunday, October 19, 2008


What if the fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk was committed to the page centuries ago and treated as gospel; and then stories of talking snakes in gardens, a man who lived within a giant fish for 3 days, and someone who magically walked on water were mere children's tales? Would the story of Jack and the Beanstalk hold true as logical religious means for rational people? Of course not. That's ridiculous.

Ridiculous. Religion. Religulous.

The trailer:

Two lefty movies in one weekend for the Gordons (W. and Religulous)! Now as a disclaimer, we already worship at the altar of Bill Maher (an odd metaphor for the religion-as-bunk film), so take the review with a grain of salt....lest ye be turned into a pillar of salt like a fairy tale figure. Wait, that actual occurrence is part of religion? My bad.

This film is NOT a bashing of religion. It is a thoughtful inquisition (tee hee hee, "inquisition"...another religious event). Anyway, it is a thoughtful inquisition on matters of religion. Logic and reason and challenging questions are posed versus religion. Engage a conversation: how can otherwise brilliant and rational people throw all scientific method and logical thought out the window in favor of a wildly irrational and fairy tale belief in mysticisms? How do otherwise intelligent people throw all caution to the wind and believe in a set of stories (Jesus and Christianity) that are based on Egyptian belief systems invented 1000 years beforehand (Horus)? How does one argue that scientific fact is said to be included in these holy books, when modern science techniques did not arise until centuries, if not a millennium, later? How is a "virgin birth" such a pivotal moment in the story, yet only included in two of the gospels? Wouldn't the book editor feel that such a rare physiological occurrence would merit inclusion?

It isn't a classic "Gotcha!" film, where the interviewees are edited to look like buffoons. The questions Maher raise leave open-ended pause for more questioning. Talk. Discuss. Debate. However it IS Maher, and it IS humorous commentary, so sure there are ways to lighten the mood and slightly mock the interviewee, but any buffoonishness is manufactured solely by the buffoon him/herself.

Find him funny or find him dull, Maher is indeed a sharp critic in Religulous. Many points, borderline and also downright scary, are made well and with logic. When government professes to place great weight onto religion in its decision-making, and with the utmost joy that will occur for the "believers" at "End of Days", one wonders just how public policy may try to invoke the hastening of these final days just to see their fairy tale come to a glorious and climactic end.

An easy Full Price. Easy.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Caught the newest film from Oliver Stone last night. That's right, you read that correctly. A movie at night. Full price! On a weekend! We went to see how skewed, outrageous, tilted, etc. this biopic would be. But first, as always, the trailer:

A dead-on impersonation of George W. Bush by Josh Brolin. Freakish. Some say Heath Ledger was driven to madness by immersing himself as The Joker in the latest Batman film. I could only imagine the insanity of having to portray W. day in and day out. [shiver] The horror!

An overacted piece. Each character (sans Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney) seemed to reach and make their character a lampoon. A caricature. Sequences of W. daydreaming and fantasizing in centerfield at the Texas Rangers ballpark mark chapters in the movie. And the chapters feel as if they are Saturday Night Live vignettes. Overdone. Over the top.

Didn't seem to lean too, too left. What you did come away with is the massive tension to please one's "Poppy". Classic psychological nightmare here. Waaaa, Jeb's your favorite, you never say anything nice about me, waaaaaa. A Roman tragedy of pride and stubbornness and going to all ends to please Poppy and be better than him. There was plenty of dramatic license and insertion of Bushie quotes into different situations, but in the end overall it didn't seem too historically warped.

Long. Annoying. Frankly, the overacting was too much for us. We were bored with it.

A Matinee Minus / HBO Plus for this one.

Friday, October 17, 2008

NPR interview: "Charles Ardai: Hard Case Shows a Soft Spot for Pulp"

May 5, 2008: Chris hears an NPR interview with Charles Ardai, the founder of Hard Case Crime. [What's that, you ask? Why, re-read this post to find out:]

May 30, 2008: the first shipment of books arrives at the House of Gordon.

October 17, 2008: a repeat of the interview is played this afternoon on NPR's Fresh Air.

The 30-minute interview:

The House of Gordon collection so far:
They're a LOT of fun!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thank you, Jimmy Carter. (Or, "Chris is an historical idiot.")

Chris brewed Razzmatazz last Tuesday.

October 14, 2008.

On the freaking 3oth anniversary of the legalization of homebrewing and it slipped Chris's mind completely.


On October 14, 1978, President Carter signed House Resolution 1337. Senate Amendment 3534 to that resolution called for equal treatment of home beer brewers and home winemakers. This law allowed for brewing up to 100 gallons per adult or up to 200 gallons per household per year. The amendment was proposed by
Senator Cranston of California, Senator Schmitt of New Mexico, Senator Bumpers of Arkansas and Senator Gravel of Alaska.

From the repeal of the Volstead Act in 1933 (and of course earlier during Prohibition) until 14 October 1978, it was illegal to produce beer at home, although legal to do so for wine. A stenographer’s unintended omission on the 1933 bill produced this insalubrious result.

For nearly 44 years, no congressman would find it politically expedient to demand the right to homebrew for his or her constituents… until January 1977 when courageous House Republican from New York Barber Conable would introduce bill HR 2028. This would eventually become HR 1337/SR 3534 in 1978 and be signed by President Carter.

Cheers, Jimmy! And thanks.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Razzmatazz Raspbeery Wheat Ale

Tuesday on a sunny mid-October 86-degree day off in North Carolina, and what better time to brew? This time in the brewpot it was a lighter style that will be augmented with fruity flavor, color, and character in a week's time: Razzmatazz Raspbeery Wheat Ale. Yes, it's "raspbeery". A minimally hopped wheat ale so that the raspberry character, and not an excessive hop profile, shines. An American hefe yeast instead of a prototypical German one because the heavy clove and banana character of the German yeast is not required. A toned down American version is used so that, again, the raspberry dominates.

I know you're dying for the secret, so here's the recipe:

1 lb Pilsner Malt
1 lb Vienna Malt
1/2 lb 60L Crystal Malt

7 lb Wheat Dry Extract

1 oz Liberty hops, 3.7% AA at 90 minutes
1 oz Liberty hops, 3.7% AA at 20 minutes
1 tsp Irish Moss at 10 minutes

WLP320 American Hefeweizen yeast
Then the kicker: after primary fermentation is completed in one week (and as you can see in the above photo we did not get the violent fermentations of batches past), six 12-oz packages of thawed frozen raspberries will be placed in the secondary fermenter. Then the beer will be racked onto the fruit for two weeks to pick up all the delicious raspberry character it can. The end result should be a pinkish wheat ale with plenty of sweet fruit zing.

Hopefully this experiment will be a successful one. And that's half the fun of homebrewing: experimentation. Want to make a particular style or flavor or just try something crazy? Brew your own!

And of course, for brewday there was plenty of meat smoking. Stop it. Chris may be a left-winger, but that's not code for anything. Ribs and turkey thighs were smoked and basted with sauce during the festivities. The ribs were a touch tough and took some gnawing to get off the bone, but the thighs were succulent and delicious. Any tips on preparing ribs so the meat melts off the bone would be appreciated.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

2008 Stanley Cup champions pay a visit to the 2006 Stanley Cup champions.

An intense bout with clogged sinuses did not stop Chris for a visit 60 minutes east to the RBC Center. Many many drugs and a quick nap after work resulted in a drive over to Raleigh for the 2nd home game for the 2-0-0 Carolina Hurricanes (your 2006 Stanley Cup Championship team). The 1-1-0 Detroit Red Wings (your 2008 Stanley Cup champions) took the ice versus our local heroes. It was also the inaugural night for the new "alternate sweaters" for the 'Canes. Yes, hockey players wear sweaters, not jerseys. The marketing department certainly did their homework.


The usual suspects are:
Home red:

Away white:

And now, the alternate black:

Way cool. Instead of the usual logo with the puck as the eye of the hurricane storm comprised of two C's, the shoulder logo (Chris's favorite) takes prominence on the chest: a hurricane flag on a hockey stick over a triangle. Get it? Triangle? Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill? Triangle?

The home team lost 3-1, the third goal being an empty net variety with seconds remaining. Great seats, center ice behind the penalty boxes. Center ice as in, Chris's seat was directly on the red line. Sure it was a pretty penny, but Gordon appearances at Hurricanes games do not occur nearly as often as we'd prefer.

Figured the Monday Night Football game with the Browns and the Giants would be a Cleveland disaster, so the hockey game took precedence. Who knew the Brownies would end up victorious in the end? Chris was home for the 4th quarter of the football game, but the sinuses began their newest vicious onslaught and bedtime occurred early.

Regardless of a snot-filled buckethead, it was an enjoyable evening.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Candidate switcheroo

One interesting facet of argument and debate is to switch the scenario around to its opposite and see how it fares, see something from a differing perspective; i.e. I'm right and you're wrong...but what if you're right and I'M wrong?


Got this email tonight concerning a) racism, and b) presidential qualifications and just thought I'd share:

What if John McCain were a former president of the Harvard Law Review?
What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class?

What if Obama were a member of the Keating-5?
What if McCain were a charismatic, eloquent speaker?

What if McCain were still married to the first woman he said 'I do' to?
What if Obama were the candidate who left his first wife after she no longer measured up to his standards?

What if Michelle Obama were a wife who not only became addicted to pain killers, but acquired them illegally through her charitable organization?
What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?

If these questions reflected reality, do you really believe the election numbers would be as close as they are? This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes positive qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative qualities in another when there is a color difference.

You are The Boss... which team would you hire?

With America facing historic debt, 2 wars, stumbling health care, a weakened dollar, all-time high prison population, mortgage crises, bank foreclosures, etc. consider...

Educational Background:

Columbia University - B.A. Political Science with a Specialization in International Relations.
Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

University of Delaware - B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science.
Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)


United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899

Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study
University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism
Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester
University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B.A. in Journalism

Now, which team are you going to hire ?

Sure this comes from a left-leaning source, but try to consider the scenario. Would this road to the general election in fact be viewed differently?

Mild venting over for now. Carry on.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Start your Christmas lists! Item #1: Guinness Pub

Neiman Marcus

There are plenty of reasons to raise a pint to the Irish. Saint Patrick, the Blarney Stone. One of the greatest occurred in 1759 when young Arthur Guinness founded a brewery at St. James's Gate, crafted a hearty, distinctive stout, and won a place in our hearts forever. Celebrate the 250th anniversary of that first delicious keg with our exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime gift. The folks at RiRa Pubs will design a fully functional, traditional Irish pub and build it in your home in 2009. It will be crafted from historic Irish architectural elements and authentic Guinness artifacts. There's also a VIP trip for two to Dublin with first class airfare, luxury accommodations, and insider access to the magic still being made at the historic working St. James's Gate brewery. (All members of your party must be at least 21 years of age.) Plus fresh Guinness Stout for your pub. For an entire year.

A toast! To calling 1.877.9NM.GIFT for more information, detailed terms and conditions, and to order! Sláinte!

©2008 GUINNESS & Co. Always Drink Responsibly.

Free Guinness for a year? FIRST CLASS airfare to Ireland? Authentic Guinness artifacts? How much does this fantastic offer cost, you ask?

Authentic Guinness Home Pub
Price $250,000.00*

*Neiman Marcus is acting as the advertiser for this package. Recipient must be 21 years of age or older and live in the continental United States. Site preparation costs not included. Method of delivery of beer will be subject to legal restrictions and requirements in the gift recipient's state of residence.

That's where they lost me. Not the quarter million dollar price tag, but the "site preparation costs not included". For that price, I ain't paying anything extra.

Oh well. I guess that means there will be more authentic Guinness artifacts to go into YOUR home and not ours.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

DBR + the SQ Unit

Last February we went to NC State in Raleigh to see a concert of DBR + the Mission. Last night was a toned down version, "unplugged" if you will, of DBR + the SQ Unit. "SQ" meaning string quartet. Sadly, Kimberly could not get out of work with all her days off for Europe and lobbying stuff, so Chris made the solo drive out to Raleigh to see the show himself.

A stop in Raleigh at Flying Saucer Draught Emporium first for dinner after work. The delicious Founders Breakfast Stout was on the docket, yet another brewery making their entry into the North Carolina beer market. Life is good. A French Dip and some stouts, then it was on to the NC State campus and the concert.

Excerpts from A Civil Rights Reader, pieces composed in tribute to heroes of the civil rights movement, were performed.
String Quartet No, 1 X (1993)
String Quartet No. 2 King (2001)
String Quartet No. 3 Powell (2003) -- for Adam Clayton Powell, not the general
String Quartet No. 4 Angelou (2004)
String Quartet No. 5 Parks (2005)

The Parks quartet was interesting with a movement entitled Klap Ur Handz, which had relegated moments and structured composition for hand clapping. Great fun! Takes "classical music" and turns it on its ear. The creativity and message behind the music was jaw-dropping.

Also on the program was a commissioned piece for an octet: a professional quartet plus a quartet of amateur students. 4 students from NC State met the band Monday, and performed onstage as the octet Tuesday. Unreal. Can't imagine how nervewracking that could be. A balance of the complicated and the simple-yet-still-important to the fabric of the piece. Nifty.

February's concert was an auditory onslaught of what you could do with an amplified and electrified violin. Last night's, even though it was unplugged, still exhibited the skills and virtuosity of making the instrument sing and create notes not heard in conventional arenas.

The big score was after the concert, where groupie Chris hung around for autographs and photos. A wonderful evening. Oops, sorry Kimberly. I meant to say that the evening was a waste and the concert was no fun at all. There's no need to feel bad about having to work and missing the performance. It sucked, Kimberly.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

World Beer Festival

Saturday October 4th was the date for the annual World Beer Festival over in Durham. Usually the locale is the old Durham Athletic Park, but due to renovations for the minor league baseball museum constructed there, it was moved to the newer Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The DBAP versus the DAP.

A gorgeous day: sunny, bright, and a comfortable 70 degrees. Fantastic for walking around the outfield on a minor league baseball field underneath huge white tents while imbibing 2-ounce samples of beers from around the world.

James and Monica drove down from Alexandria for a family visit, and we incorporated a manly afternoon out for Chris and James to get into whatever trouble they could.

We parked the Jeep at the American Tobacco Complex by 11:00 and stood in line for the 12:00pm gate opening. The entrance was the left field corner, and we arrived along third base pretty darn close to home plate. This year, it went smoothly as they checked ID's and scanned tickets down the line instead of a bottleneck at the entrance. We were inside the ballpark with first beer in hand by 12:15pm. Absolutely unheard of in past years.

We wound our way throughout all three tents, sampled plenty of beer, and met some great people. Gwen, a pourer for Top of the Hill brewpub in Chapel Hill was instantly taken with Chris's Indians jersey as she exclaimed she was from Ohio. James was lost in his beer as these two yammered on and on about being a Cleveland fan and the pain we must suffer. Plus it didn't hurt that she was so easy on the eyes.

The token, required, and mandated Gordonian stop at the Foothills booth resulted in yet another worshipping at the feet of brewer Jamie B. In his imbibing, James was floored by their Total Eclipse Stout, and he returned for repeat samples for that one with ease.

Plenty of really good beers were available, along with some so-so ones that would make you proclaim.....meh. A Croatian lager and a Lithuanian pale ale come to mind. Nice to try, but a 2-ounce sample was all that was needed to realize that a bulk purchase of these beers would not in fact be in our future.

As this festival obviously occurs in NC, it was easy to have local representation of our growing beer scene. Gordonian locals Natty Greene's and Foothills of course, plus Wilmington's Azalea Coast (what was up with all the buttered popcorn flavor in the Black Lure Porter???); Raleigh's Big Boss Brewing (with a yummy Black Diamond Express blackberry Belgian ale); Chapel Hill's Top of the Hill and also Carolina Brewery; Farmville's Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery; High Point's Liberty Brewing; Fayetteville's Mash House (whose Hoppy Hour IPA has severely gone downhill over the years); Durham's Triangle Brewing (and a snappy Xtra Pale Ale); a plethora from Asheville: French Broad Brewing (with a spicy Rye Hopper seasonal beer), old standby Highland Brewing (with a malty and nutty Clawhammer Oktoberfest seasonal), and new on the scene Wedge Brewing (with a fantastic organic Carob Maple Porter).

Best beer of the day? In a discussion and debate, it was decided by James and Chris that it was the Chico Estate Harvest Wet Hop Ale from Sierra Nevada in California. A mere six hours from hops picked on their own farm to enter the brew kettle. Delicious.

Afterward, it was dinner literally across the street from the ballpark at Tyler's Taproom for sandwiches, one final beer (full-sized), and plenty of water. A reuben and a monte cristo for us, with plenty of their succulent garlic fries.

Once we got back to Greensboro, the beery theme continued with the brewing of an imperial stout: Chocolate-Vanilla Imperial Stout to be precise. A beefy wintertime stout that will have cocoa powder and Madagascar Bourbon vanilla added to the secondary fermenter once initial fermentation is complete. We brewed into the night; a peaceful reflective time brewing is, allowing us to unwind and sample some homebrew. We did a side-by-side taste test of Chris's clone of Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter. It holds its own. James raves about it, but being Chris's baby he is far more critical and feels it lacks in the coffee aspect that comes through in the real deal. Either way, it was a tasty attempt to copy it. We also chilled a bottle of the Maple Pumpkin Ale, only one week into carbonation out of the required 2 to 3. It was AWESOME. Carbonated already, with plenty of autumnal spicing and a whisper of pumpkin flesh. This is going to be a GOOD one. Next year's batch will be MUCH bigger for October. With all the solids in the brew, Chris netted only 36 bottles out of a usual 48-53. The pumpkin flesh really held onto a lot of liquid in the brew, plus the required three transfers of the beer to clarify it more took its toll on the final volume. 2009's version will make up for that I assure you.

Brewday cleanup was completed at 9:45pm Saturday night. At 4:45am Sunday morning as Kimberly woke up for an overtime shift at work, she took the dogs out and checked the imperial stout. The fermentation was so vigorous and violent it blew the airlock off, splattering the ceiling, the walls, and the toilet. The floor was a mess, the room stunk of beer, and when Chris woke at 9:00am he couldn't be happier to clean up the mess. A frothy foamy fermentation in mere hours! Outstanding. And, there's no stopping it. Chris cleaned up the airlock and the carboy, but the yeasties just want to pop that airlock right back off. We're going to have to let it ferment a day open with a protective layer of froth and gunk to cover the carboy opening. Wow. We'll replace the airlock Sunday night or Monday. Resistance is futile.

Now the big question:
Who's going to help Chris drink all this homebrew? We've got Joe Jackson Tripel and Gordon Lightfoot Porter on the top shelf, then Carolinian Slightly Smoked Porter and Honey Molasses Porter on the bottom shelf. We need to make some room because the currently carbonating Maple Pumpkin Ale has to go in here SOMEWHERE...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Dominican Republic C.E.

The Dominican Republic mission trip is a mere 4 months away!

Last night, Chris drove over to Chapel Hill after work and attended a continuing education seminar at UNC Hospitals for a recap of the February 2008 mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Grace, our fearless pharmacy leader, presented an hour lecture on what we did, how we stayed healthy, what DR life is like, and how even though 2008's trip was bad enough after just one hurricane, 2009 looks to be much harsher after the island was hit by THREE this year. Afterward, Nancy had a presentation on all sorts of maladies endemic to the DR and what we treated.

It was great to meet up again with the Carribbean cohorts. And another chance to light that excitable fire for 2009's trip down there.

Grace, Nancy, Chris, and a 4th cronie for 2009....Scott, er, Duke!

Tropic Thunder

This week, Kimberly and Chris hit up another one of their simple pleasures: the weekday matinee. The current feature? Ben Stiller, Robert Downey, Jr. and Jack Black in the silly Tropic Thunder.

As always here first, the trailer:

The farcical comedy about the filming of a blockbuster, big budget Vietnam War film gone awry. Ben Stiller as the action film Scorcher VI star Tugg Speedman (whose Hollywood stock has fallen dramatically with his recent flop about a retarded boy, Simple Jack); Jack Black as comedian Jeff Portnoy, whose currently greatest moviemaking experience has been the Eddie Murphy-esque fatsuit comedy The Fatties; and House of Gordon favorite Robert Downey, Jr. as Kirk Lazarus, the Academy Award winning actor who recently starred in the Brokeback Mountain-esque film Satan's Alley, about two monks who dare not publicly express their love for each other ("starring 5-time Academy Award winner Kirk Lazarus, and MTV Movie Award Best Kiss winner Tobey Maguire"). Fake trailers for all three films precede Tropic Thunder on the screen. Nice.

The antics of these pampered and spoiled actors threaten to completely shelve the film, leading the director to take drastic action to finish the film soon with usable footage: drop them into the jungle where hidden cameras and pyrotechnics will comprise a "guerilla-style" of filmmaking. Keep in character, who knows where the cameras will be. Of course this takes a dastardly turn as the boys encounter real-life jungle drug smugglers with real guns and real fists that the actors initially believe to be part of the film.

Hilarious hijinks ensue.

Robert Downey, Jr. is spectacular in his role. Freakishly blue-eyed and heavily accented Austrailian actor Kirk Lazarus undergoes a pigmentation procedure to become, well, black. Such a committed actor to his craft that even when the cameras are off, he stays in his alternative race character. "I keep in character until we record the DVD commentary." Classic.

Plenty of other stars make their mark in the movie, current and up-and-coming ones. Nick Nolte as the scarred handless veteran upon whose book the film is based, Matthew McConaughey as the agent who fights to make sure TiVo is available to his client on the southeast Asia set, and an unmentionable actor who portrays the maniacal, hirsute (yet bald), portly movie studio chief whose performance almost steals the show from Downey, Jr.

It's silly. It's ridiculous. It's terribly offensive to the mentally challenged and those who love them. The Simple Jack flop is an underlying story here, with its small fan base providing background. Plus there's Lazarus warning Tuggmann with some acting advice never to go "full retard"; there are no awards for actors who go "full retard".

It was 90 minutes of side-splitting laughter for the Gordons.

The House of Gordon movie score? An easy Full price.