Friday, August 24, 2012

Summer Craft Beer Roundup, Part 1

So, it's been a long, hot, dry, and record-breaking summer around the American Midwest. Luckily, there is plenty of craft beer to take the edge off the uncomfortable conditions. Remember to drink locally (when possible), drink independently (always), and prost!

Ratings are, as ever, from 1 being utter shite to 5 being nectar of the gods. Consider a 3 a fine beer, a 4 worth hunting down. 

Goose Island rarely disappoints, and this light golden kolsch-style beer is no exception. It pours with a massive head and with attractive lace, and summons an aroma of  slight citrus hops alongside the lagery grains. Taste is a bright melding of almost sweet malts with some citrus tones. Enjoyable.

A new brewery here, and even semi-local! Really pleased by this one, being an attractive amber, despite having limited carbonation and lace on the glass. The flavor, though, is nicely rich -- definitely more flavorful than most amber ales. I get more brown ale notes -- a little roasty on the malts, a bit nutty, and a hint of hop sharpness at the finish, too. Well-done!

Schlafly's Summer seasonal is a clean golden lager with a thick foamy head and average lace. The taste is a sturdy malt base, with a slight hint of citrus. Finishes kinda sweet, but also quite pleasant and easy. Solid and session-worthy.


Anheuser-Busch's entry into the "shandy wars" may be opportunistic, but it is tastier than their chief competitor's. This golden ale pours with an average head and no lace. The nose is subtle and lager-like, with only a tinge of lemon. The flavor is light and rather bland, but only teasing with the honey-lemon sweetness, rather than slapping it up front. Definitely lacking, but I've had worse.

D.O.A. - "We Come In Peace" CD

Among classic late 70's punk bands, Vancouver's stalwart D.O.A. have never left the building. After a shit-ton of records and 30+ years, Joey Keithley (aka Joey Shithead) and friends keep on their path, raising hell with politically-aware and socially-conscious punk anthems (alongside the occasional odes to beer and hockey). 

"We Come In Peace" is ripe with classic, raging, full-on punk anthems with guts and  glory. "Dirty Bastards" brings an Irish flair (it's the bagpipes). "Bloody But Unbowed" is a more straightforward rock, whereas "War Hero" has some definite rock-steady ska vibes. "We Occupy" brings in guest vocals by Jello Biafra, but "Who The Hell Do You Think You Are" brings it all back to the classic punk singalong arena. The Beatles "Revolution" is done up in traditional D.O.A. style, but seems to fall a bit short. The dub-tinged "Walk Through This World" is a definite ode to Joe Strummer and the Clash. It all closes out with an acoustic rendition of "General Strike". With D.O.A., you know what to expect, and "We Come In Peace" does not disappoint. (Sudden Death Records)

"Ali: The Man, The Moves, The Mouth" DVD

This 60-minute documentary is narrated by famous boxing writer and personality Bert Sugar, and it's a solid overview and history of the man many would consider the greatest fighter of all-time. Utilizing plenty of archival fight footage (and a plethora of interview clips), the former Cassius Clay's life is examined in an honest, frank, and enlightening style. We get lots of Ali hamming it up, rhyming, boasting, and, most of all, fighting against some of the greatest names -- Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier, George Foreman...and more.

As a non-boxing fan, I was pleasantly surprised at this one, and perhaps serious boxing students won't need this concise history of one of the greats, but as a primer, this one works perfectly well. Enjoyed! (MVD VIsual)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"Slutty Stewardesses: Grindhouse Double Feature" DVD

Collecting a nice pair (haha) of mid-70s hardcore films, this set includes the 1975 sleaze-o-rama, "In-Flight Service" (directed by Charles Lamont, aka C. Davis Smith). This is a below-average, shallow, hackneyed, and poorly-edited series of explicit scenes, with little to recommend aside from the requisite furry folks engaging in sleazy, slimy, sexual situations. Even the weirdly creepy electronic soundtrack can't save this one. Print quality is fair, but it doesn't matter, as you won't be watching this more than once, anyway.

Also included is the slightly more interesting "Come With Me My Love", directed by the legendary Doris Wishman in 1976. Adding elements of horror to her porn, Wishman's tale of a jealous ghost who murders a poor lass's lovers is odd and almost surreal. It's ultra low budget, with a poor script and awful "acting", though the weirdly upbeat score helps, as does the presence of art/porn goddess Annie Sprinkle. Again, print quality is marginal and pretty scratchy, but this is a definite hardcore oddity, for sure. (After Hours Cinema)

"Playgirls Of Munich" 2xDVD (director: Navred Reef)

Ah, reissues of old 70s-era grindhouse porn are always welcomed at Goatsden HQ, and this extravagant set is good fun, in an awful, sleazy, and tacky way. The premise? A pair of bumbling telephone repairmen are in search of a good time, and they manage to stowaway to Germany, where the two manage to coerce the sex-starved German lasses into all sorts of wacky predicaments. 

As a grindhouse porn with tons of humorous elements, "Playgirls Of Munich" is a pure farce, with hammy acting, no real story, and plenty of beautiful women who are willing to please. The film quality is fine, considering the age, and this is a well-shot trash film with plenty of explicit action. The second DVD is simply a collection fo trailers and 70s-era porn loops -- quite forgettable and unnecessary. Still, a solid set for fans of that au-naturel seventies scene. (After Hours Cinema)

Happy Mondays - "Hallelujah It's The Happy Mondays" CD/DVD

In their late 80s/early 90s heyday, Manchester's Happy Mondays were the leading distillers of funky, dance-edged, drug-fuelled club rock music. Mainman Shaun Ryder was notorious for being well off his rocker, and an ardent student of heroin, booze, and pills -- enough to make him (and his band of fellow partiers) tabloid fodder numerous times. The band seemed to implode as much due to their well-noted excesses as from the music scene changing (remember this was the pre-Nirvana era).

This extravagant double-disc set was recorded in 2004, at a reunion show in Barcelona, and presents all the band's hits and favorites. We get soulful, loose, laid-back (and even fittingly sloppy) versions of "Kinky Afro", "Step On", "Hallelujah", "WFL (Wrote For Luck)","24 Hour Party People", and more. Shaun Ryder is as unhinged, off-key, and slackerly as ever. Nonetheless, the sound is solid and well-mixed, so fans will definitely be pleased. The DVD I can't comment on, as my promotional copy of the DVD had a hole bored through it! (Secret Records UK)

"The Beatles - Their Golden Age" DVD

Not sure who this is aimed at, as there are few bands who've been as exhaustively researched, dissected, and documented, but here it is...a Beatles primer, sans any actual music. Narrator/writer Les Krantz states the obvious time and time again, though he does do so with enthusiasm.

Within the first 2 minutes of this presentation, we have repeat footage (and I saw the same clip repeat again within the first 20 minutes), so that's certainly not a good harbinger of things to come from this dodgy, shallow documentary. "The Golden Age" is a rehashed, recycled mash of old TV and newsreel footage of the band leaving airplanes, a few interviews, and mostly shots of screaming and fainting fans. Totally unessential, unnecessary, and only marginally interesting for even the hardest-core fans. (MVD VIsual)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

"Butterfly" DVD (director: Edward E. Romero)

This American micro-indie horror flick isn't nearly as bad as it seems, though it does leave plenty to be desired.The premise? Young film student Lacey (played admirably well by Mandi Kreisher) drugs, abducts, and tortures various people (on camera) for atrocities committed years before. Her "film" is basically thinly-disguised snuff, but her intentions are, well, revenge.

You'd expect plenty of blood and torture, but it never quite happens. Fair enough -- gore isn't needed to get the point across. My issue lies with empathy. Lacey isn't particularly likable (though she is attractive and well-spoken), and nor are the people she maims and murders. Despite a nice twisty ending, "Butterfly" is, unfortunately, very forgettable. (R Squared)