Saturday, March 27, 2010


Winston-Salem's art house theatre a/perture beckons yet again, this time for the Atom Egoyan film Chloe.

Gorgeous Julianne Moore frets over her hunch that husband Liam Neeson is having affairs. What better way to get the scoop yourself than to hire a hooker to bait him and report back to you, right? This is the premise of the far-fetched film Chloe, a remake of a 2003 French film entitled Nathalie.

Distrust sends one into previously uncharted depths. To what lengths would you go to get the truth? As a wife longing for just a loving touch, how easy is it to go from using a hooker as an information gatherer to getting physically turned on by the specific details of the encounters?

With the news you receive, consider the source. Can anyone be trusted?


Friday, March 26, 2010

Alice in Wonderland in 3-D

Honestly, on a day off, there's an absolute way I enjoy unwinding and detaching myself from reality: an afternoon in a darkened theater with some sort of film on the big screen taking me away to other worlds, other times, other realms. My most recent day off found just such a scenario. A 12:00 viewing of Tim Burton's version of Alice in Wonderland in 3-D.

Tim Burton + Johnny Depp? Is there nothing wrong these two collaborators can do? Granted, the story in this updated film of Alice going BACK to Wonderland 13 years after her first trip (and I do mean "trip") is a touch lacking. But the dark visuals of a Tim Burton film plus the iconic and trippy acting of Johnny Depp trump the weak story. Visually mesmerizing, especially in 3-D, but a rather dull story.

Trippy and engaging if you just check your brain at the door and drink in all of Depp's scenes and let the screen do the thinking for you. Groovy man.

(And it didn't hurt that Alice was hot.)


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The White Ribbon

Hit up a/perture for another arty film. Tonight? The German film The White Ribbon. Black and white, subtitled, and a 2 & 1/2 hour mindfuck.

Eerie. Observe:

"I gave God a chance to kill me. And he didn't. So he must be pleased with me."


Pre-World War I Germany. A country hamlet is "ruled" by the triumvirate of the estate baron, the preacher, and the doctor. Each rules with unbending and vicious control. Strange accidents occur: a wire is stretched between two trees felling the doctor from his horse, the farmer's wife falls through rotten floorboards at the sawmill, a local child is found bound and beaten, a disabled child is found nearly blinded. Who's the culprit? This tight-knit village is rocked with tragedy, but no one knows anything....

The preacher's children are punished for their particular insolence by a "purifying" beating with a cane and then the public disgrace of wearing the symbol of purity: a white ribbon, a la the scarlet letter or more appropriately in this scenario a yellow Star of David.

The local schoolteacher reminisces and narrates the tale as he recalls. He was determined to find out which of the hellish children committed these heinous acts...until the powers-that-be squash his inquiry with threats of arrest.

A mystery that does not reveal the criminal(s). You are left hanging. The news of Archduke Ferdinand's assassination occurs, and the movie just.....ends.

An artsy whodunit that frankly left me not caring. Too long and tedious to not get anywhere. Filmed artistically and framed well, but I just started to daydream and waver mid-film.

Matinee minus.

Crazy Heart

OK, I'll admit that generally the musical genre does NOTHING for me. But being a rabid Oscars fan, I was intrigued by the Best Actor nod to Jeff Bridges. So as a lemming, I hit the theater last week (yes, I'm behind on blogging) to see what all the fuss was about. Outstanding.

"Funny how falling feels like flying for a little while."

Old country singer Bad Blake is down on his luck playing bowling alleys and general low-scale venues. His headlining days are behind him. His protege has taken the "new country" fans by storm. Whiskey and cigarettes and cheap motels and his 1978 Suburban "Bessie" define his existence. Single mom Maggie Gyllenhaal is a reporter named Jean who covers him for a small newspaper and becomes smitten; never mind she's young enough to be his daughter, or possible GRANDdaughter. Bad Blake's on a relentless course towards destruction via booze. Can Jean save him? Should she? Can anybody? Can music?

Really a treat and a deserved win for Bridges. WOW.

Is there even a doubt? Full Price.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Jonathan Coulton

John Hodgman + They Might Be Giants / Weird Al Yankovic.

Work out this equation and you get Jonathan Coulton. Witty lyrics, but not clownish. Thoughtful subjects, and not obnoxious. He had a good line at last Friday's performance at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA: a young man in his early teen years in the 80s reading Omni magazine. Songs about moving to suburbia and owning a Shopvac; a love song between Pluto and its moon; mad scientist love and the stretch one takes to make a gift for his love: a half-monkey, half-pony monster. All done with dry wit and humor and touching sentimentality.

It was quite possibly the most entertaining evening I've had at a musical performance in a long, long time.

Here are some videos from my seat at the performance. I hope you enjoy. JoCo rocks!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Eric Clapton...with a surprise ROGER DALTREY

OK, so on a whim over this past weekend, I realize Eric Clapton will be in concert Monday night in Raleigh. Had no clue. And it so happens I worked 8-4 Monday. Out of the blue, I decide to trek on over to the RBC Center in Raleigh to see a blues guitar GOD. (As a non-religious man, I drop the term "god" discriminately.)

So I leave at 5:00 so I can sit in Triangle rush hour traffic for quite some time, then arrive in my seat by 6:40. At 7:30, the opening band is making its way to the stage. I have absolutely no idea who it could be, and stare in amazement as the singer's identity is made clear...

ROGER FUCKING DALTREY. The lead singer of my ALL-TIME favorite band, The Who.

I frantically wave my arms and soil my trousers repeatedly. OMG!OMG!OMG!OMG!


Monday, March 8, 2010

Newest addition to my DVD library

Best Picture. It won. The Hurt Locker. Stunning film. Commented on these very pages in August 2009: And now, in accordance with my collection addiction, it joins all the other Best Picture winners on the shelf.

Congratulations Ms. Bigelow on recognition of your very powerful film.

It's here. It's really here.

Greensboro, NC. Harris Teeter grocery store. Friendly Center shopping center. Saturday, March 6, 2010. My vision blurs due to tears of joy.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Esperanza Spalding

Friday night I traveled over to Raleigh on the campus of NC State to see a gorgeous and up-and-coming bassist: Esperanza Spalding. Esperaza, a pianist, guitarist, and drummer entertained for two hours. Jazz, both classic and modern, filled the air. Soulful ballads, upbeat numbers, offbeat acid beats; Esperanza manages to command her bass with virtuosity.

Really an exciting and mesmerizing performance. Here's a video I took on the iPhone:

Around the World in 80 Days

Thursday, Triad Stage night! Another evening using the season pass. People tire of hearing me blather on and on, but I will continue to scream it from the rooftops: I HEART TRIAD STAGE!!!!!

An amusing romp following Philleas Fogg in 1872 and his wager to travel from London around the world via steamer and train. A witty and comedic production, with various pitfalls befalling Mr. Fogg along the way. A table from the set doubles (quadruples?) as boat, elephant, train, etc. The actors really appeared to have a whale of a time stimulating your imagination by pretending to be speeding (in 1872 terms) across the world.

Quite fun. As usual.

Proper Oktoberfest

This past Thursday was another brew day. This time, it's an adventure into brewing days of yore. A proper Märzen was the recipe and the procedure: brewed in March and ready to go in September.

Brief synopsis. Before the days of refrigeration, brewers were forbidden to brew during the warm summer months. The final product was subpar and frankly rancid due to the heat. So in March, before the weather turned, a large batch was brewed and stored (lagered) in cool caves over the summer. In the fall when the mercury drops, these barrels were brought out in a massive autumnal celebration. So, my beer was brewed in March and will lager in my fridge until September. My second lager beer, so we'll see how it goes.

In a strange twist, one of my college buddies from ol' Founders Hall at ONU was traveling from Charlotte to Virginia on business, so he stopped off in Greensboro for brewday and then dinner at Natty Greene's. So I have ZERO photos from brewday since we bullshitted and caught up during the afternoon. But I have two: one from Natty's and one afterward with the start of the lagering.

The recipe:

1 lb. Weyermann Caramunich II malt

2 lbs. Pilsen Dry Malt Extract (DME)
6 lbs. Amber Liquid Malt Extract (LME)

1 oz. German Hallertau hops, 3.7% alpha acid @ 60 minutes

Saflager W-34/70 dry lager yeast

Great seeing Kurt after 15 years! And with a possible move much closer to Greensboro, the hilarity may ensue in earnest....

Thursday, March 4, 2010

2 days, 3 movies

I'm super behind on posting here (shocking). But suffice to say I spent a good chunk of time at a/perture cinema recently. My upcoming schedule is brutal with regard to free time spent blogging (in a fit of irony I'll try to blog about what I've done) so here's just a quick re-hash fo what I saw:

First, the North Carolina-filmed Wesley

The YouTube trailer is quite grainy and frankly not blogworthy, so here's a much clearer trailer from the film studio website:


The 2nd film was The Last Station.


Lastly, was A Single Man.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Our long national nightmare is over...

My beloved Great Lakes Brewing Co. is making its introduction into the North Carolina market. O! The joy! (I'll see you in Winston-Salem on March 9th. All the Greensboro locations are sketch.)

Per their Facebook post:

GLBC To Enter North Carolina!
Great Lakes Brewing Company announces its entry into the Charlotte/Greensboro markets of North Carolina starting the week of March 1, 2010! Visit the below locations to meet GLBC reps and sample GLBC's five year round beers: Burning River Pale Ale, Commodore Perry India Pale Ale, Dortmunder Gold Lager, Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, Eliot Ness Amber Lager!


Monday, March 1, 2010
Midtown Sundries University: 5:00 PM
3425 David Cox Rd.
(704) 597-7413

Tuesday, March 2, 2010
The Liberty: 6:00 PM
1812 South Blvd.
(704) 332-8830


Monday, March 8, 2010
Stumble Stilskins: 5:30 PM
202 W Market St.
(336) 691-1222

The Pour House: 8:00 PM
360 Federal Place
(336) 333-2226

Tuesday, March 9, 2010
First St. Draught House (Winston Salem): 5:00 PM
1500 West First St.
(336) 722-6950

Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Coopers Ale House: 5:00 PM
5340 W Market St.
(336) 294-0575


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Common Cleveland Steamer

The homebrew bug hit yet again, mainly to get through these final extract-based recipes to start to dive head first into "all-grain" brewing. Basically, as a metaphor, instead of making brownies from a boxed mix, I would add the flour, cocoa, etc. myself. All-grain is a more "from scratch" version of brewing and one where you have more control over every aspect of the recipe and final product.

So anyway, next on the docket was a California Common, alternately known in the beer world by Anchor Brewing's trademarked flagship Steam Beer: basically, a lager yeast strain used at a warmer ale yeast temperature to bring about more fruitiness. So, being from Cleveland, and as a childish play on words, I titled my homebrew "Common Cleveland Steamer". Insert your eye-rolling and groaning [here].

Here's the recipe I had:

8oz. Munton's Dark Crystal

6.6 lb. Light liquid malt extract (LME)

2 oz. UK Pilgrim Gold hops 11% alpha acid @ 60 minutes
1 oz. UK First Gold hops 7% AA @ 1 minute

Saflager S-23 dry lager yeast

And now it rests in the kitchen sink next to the British Bitter with my markedly non-electronic temperature control method: wet t-shirt in water bath. Time to rinse dirty dishes in the half-bath sink for a few more days!

Harry Connick, Jr.

What a fun Mardi Gras I just had! For whatever reason, instead of partying in his home of New Orleans, Harry Connick, Jr. was on tour and in Durham! Worked 8-4, let the dogs out, then headed over for dinner at Tyler's and then the show at the Durham Performing Arts Center. It was a LOT of fun! Between the Saints winning the Super Bowl recently and Mardi Gras happening, he was in a REALLY good mood. Some of the lovey dovey songs (which he mentioned might make those not in love "a little awkward") were a little awkward for me. But other than those two songs out of the 2-hour show, it was FUN!!!

Sadly, I don't have any video or photos from the show. I was too close to the aisle and the DPAC camera gestapo. But here's a fun toe-tapping number I found online that brings me right back to Durham and last Tuesday's show:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

British Bitter

Time to brew again. On Valentine's Day. I swear it was an act of coincidence, but the style brewed on this day of romance and love was a....bitter. Rather appropriate.

The recipe:

1/2 lb. Simpsons Caramalt

1 lb. Golden Light Dry Malt Extract (DME)
3.15 lb. Gold Liquid Malt Extract (LME)

1 oz. Kent Goldings hops, 5.0% alpha acid @ 60 min
1 oz. Kent Goldings hops 5.0% AA @ 1 min

Danstar Windsor Ale dry yeast

Easy to brew, should be easy to drink. Session pub ale.

Bitter on Valentine's Day....go figure.

Two Greensboro bands in two nights

In a fit of local music appreciation, I hit up two local bands in two local venues: Amelia's Mechanics on Friday at The Blind Tiger, and Holy Ghost Tent Revival at the Green Bean on Saturday. Both bands were a little out of my "element", but I quickly became fans of both.

Appears my iPhone video microphone is a touch sensitive. Sorry for the boisterous audio.

Amelia's Mechanics, one my own video and one not:

Holy Ghost Tent Revival, again one video my own and one not:

Fun nights.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

There is nothing I can really say here that would make sense unless you had consumed a frankly voluminous amount of hallucinogens. Wow.

The inevitable HofG trailer has a glitch in that the powers-that-be do not want anyone to embed the trailer, so here's the best I can do: a link to the trailer.

Just a visually stunning feature. Terry Gilliam strikes again with a film of such grandiose visuals and mind-bending scenarios. Sideshow artist Dr. Parnassus has a magic mirror, one where your dreams become reality when you step through it. Where did this mystic come from? Just how old is he? What's to become of the wayward vagrant (the outstanding Heath Ledger in his final role) that joins them? Ledger died during shooting, so his character behind the mirror is played with various quirks by Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law. Mesmerizing.

Stream of consciousness Monty Python animation meets Alice in Wonderland meets LSD. Confounding.

If you're into this sort of thing, it's easily worth the Full Price I'll give it. It makes it so just for the fact that Tom Waits plays the Devil. Tom Fucking Waits!

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

Movies at a/perture cinema in downtown Winston-Salem do not hang around long. There are just two theaters and so many independent films out there that most last for just one week, Friday through Thursday. Between the snow accumulation we received and a stretch of 2-10 workdays, this past Thursday was my final opportunity to see an all-star cast in The Private Lives of Pippa Lee.

The trailer:

Pippa had a checkered past of dangerous habits and wayward journeys...until she met a publisher 30 years her senior. Now, freshly released of most material possessions, they begin the final chapter in their marriage in a retirement community. Flashbacks and zig-zags in Pippa's story continue throughout, giving you the glimpse that the down-to-earth Pippa who dotes on her elderly husband was once a hellbent girl with touches of counter-culture danger. Which Pippa is the real Pippa? Can she handle holding up the airs of humble wife or will her past come back to retake its proper place?

A great cast that kept me in awe. However, the final movie product fell a smidge below Full Price for me.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Colonial Amber

The snow was a-comin' this weekend, and my day off for the week was Thursday. It was 58 degrees outside. BREW DAY! The next in line for my little Brewery-That-Could was a basic amber ale. I titled it Colonial Amber well, just because. Early colonial American brewers probably brewed something similar to this, and North Carolina was an original 13 colony, and I wanted to wear my 1754 Albany Plan "Join or die" t-shirt. Makes perfect sense.

The recipe:

1 lb. Briess Caramel 20

6.3 lbs. Amber Liquid Malt Extract

2 oz. Cascade 7.1% alpha acid @ 60 minutes
1 oz. Cascade 7.1% AA @ 1 minute

Safale US-05 dry yeast

Easy peezy lemon squeezy. Another successful brew day on an unseasonably warm day right before a LOT of snow would be coming.

A Serious Man

Filmmakers the Coen Brothers are at it again. This time with a study on a lowly Jewish professor in suburban Minnesota who is just trying to do right amongst the loads and loads of disasters that befall him.

The trailer:

With regard to his health, work, marriage, spirituality, anything and everything is heaped upon him as he tries to make his way through the world. Obstacles abound.

The film begins with a short piece set in Poland decades upon decades ago. A stranger who helps a local man fix his wheelcart arrives at the the dismay of the wife who insists the stranger died three years ago. The man is a demon, she exclaims.

How many demons show up at the door of the poor protagonist in A Serious Man? Too many to count.

Matinee score from me here.

Broken Embraces

Another evening of independent cinema at Winston-Salem's a/perture cinema. Last time it was a film from Belgium, and now...Spain: Pedro Almodóvar's subtitled Broken Embraces. Penelope Cruz....yum.

The trailer:

A back-and-forth mystery from 1992 to present-day with Cruz as secretary-by-day/escort-by-night who is discovered and fulfills her dream of being an actress...against the wishes of her elder lover. The director of the film is smitten by her and it results in his best work ever. What a film! It will be a fine piece of cinema! Until...


The director is blinded. The muse is....

I don't want to ruin it. Twists! Turns! Gasps! A shocking ending!

A truly remarkable film. I loved it. FULL PRICE theater or not.

Katrina vanden Heuvel

OK, I told you that the posts here would be quite sporadic from now on. But some gentle readers are not on Teh Facebook portion of Teh Internets, so this would be the only forum to see this news.

Two weekends ago (yes, two weekends have elapsed) was one of my beloved 3-day weekends off, so it was a trip into DC for shenanigans. A bunch of the "regular" spots were hit: District Chophouse, Ben's Chili Bowl, Lincoln Waffle Shop, Shelly's Backroom, et al. A new one on the docket was the Langston Hughes-inspired Busboys and Poets, coffee/book shop. The 14th and V Street location was the destination for lunch Friday. There was a symposium/salon sponsored by the Institute for Policy Studies concerning President Obama's first year in office. (Final grade? C-. Can't argue that.) Special guest? My not-so-secret most favorite editor EVER from The Nation magazine: Katrina vanden Heuvel. (By the way, not to be TOO creepy, but she felt and smelled GREAT.)

What a GREAT weekend!!!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Town Called Panic

My first venture over to the new a/perture cinema in downtown Winston-Salem occurred tonight. The inaugural Gordon showing? A Belgian stop-action animation film A Town Called Panic. Yes. Belgian. From Belgium. Subtitled.

The trailer:

Wallace and Gromit meets little plastic toys.

It's Horse's birthday (June 21...quite nice). Cowboy and Indian have forgotten. A gift! What to give their good friend Horse???? A barbecue pit. They'll build Horse a barbecue pit. Doing the calculations, 50 bricks will be required. Ordering online, with a few extra zero's added to the end of '50' yields hijinks and hilarity. The mischievous Cowboy and Indian have finally gone too far and the town is set upon its ear.

Psychedelic with its warping plot line and scene locations. A bizarre journey. But one that results in plenty of laughs, touching moments, and outright drug-induced jaw dropping. I'm not condoning illicit substances to augment the film...but it might help.

Oh such a quick FULL PRICE score is given. A barrel of fun careening over the falls.

a/perture cinema

If you live ANYWHERE near Winston-Salem, NC and you enjoy film, you owe it to yourself and to the arts community to go to the new a/perture cinema. It's downtown right across the street from the Mellow Mushroom and a few blocks up from Foothills Brewing. Described rather succinctly by the theater owners themselves:

an independent theater in downtown winston salem. 2 screens, 160 seats, beer, wine, and a whole bunch of movies you’ve probably never heard of.

Outstanding. REALLY looking forward to the films they'll show. Sadly, the window for most of them is small, so if you see something you may enjoy....GO SEE IT IMMEDIATELY. It might not hang around very long.

I foresee many a 30-minute drive from Greensboro to the newest theater in the area.

Avatar in 3-D

Had a day off recently and quite thoroughly enjoyed sitting in a dark theater with crazy 3-D glasses on for over 2 & 1/2 hours. I fell in line with the hive mind and offered my own tribute to the throne of James Cameron. Cannot. Stay. Away.

Here's the trailer, which pretty much tells the whole story:

Breath-taking visuals. Seriously. Just truly awe-inspiring. A good thing too, as the incredible sensory optics are needed to trump the knuckle-dragging dialog. Who knew that in the year 2154 stereotypical military-types are still using such W. phrases as "Shock and awe" and fighting terror with...wait for it....terror.

The story? Dripping with irony and modern day comparisons. The lush and beautiful world of Pandora is a hotbed for a mineral highly sought after on our dying Earth. We've made our way to their world to obtain the precious rock, but need to protect ourselves behind a "green zone". Apparently the inhabitants of this gorgeous world are rather protective of their environment and use guerrilla tactics against the military to keep them at bay.

To coordinate a more diplomatic solution, human and Na'avi DNA are melded into clone material that can be controlled via an elaborate mind-meld. The creatures are "avatars" of the controllers. This way, humans can more readily interact with the locals and "convince" them to relocate so we can mine their precious mineral.

A Marine grunt paraplegic whose twin brother scientist has died is transferred to the Avatar program since his DNA is so compatible. He's charged with using this new skill to infiltrate the locals and "convince" them to relocate. As he spends more time with the locals, he inevitably sees the errors of his military's ways, falls in love, and eventually leads the locals against the humans.

Dances with Wolves + the Smurfs + the Iraq War + Al Gore. The human becomes immersed in the foreign customs, thereby attempting to make a social statement against war and the urbanization of greenery.

Dialog dripping with cheese overcome by FANTASTIC visuals. Still, the 3-D experience made it an EASY FULL PRICE rating. It readily overcame the script and cheap metaphors. A cinematic delight.