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Big Budget Film = Good?…Not Guaranteed

I just finished watching a great movie by mistake, Safety Not Guaranteed. Another movie that remind me why I don’t like the big budget films anymore. I can’t relate to a super-attractive mutant trying to save the world. I can relate to an awkward person trying to understand the world. Each story is simple, but only one is real.

I thought I was just airing some random documentary about an old internet cliche, but it turns out this was a real movie. The setup is based off a pic that has been floating around the internet for years. Someone posted an ad that wanted volunteers to travel back in time. Safety not guaranteed, and even more ominously intriguing, “I’ve only done this once.”

Now before I get into the movie let me explain how I watch movies at home. I keep a laptop in front of me, and on the weekends, libations to the left of me. So forgive me if I miss some details that are only crucial to film-nuts. The fact that this movie gained 100% of my attention and inspired a blog post is all you really need to know. But here’s the review.

The Good
A simple, but hilarious plot of exploring an internet meme.
A hot lead actress.
A hot redhead.
Real characters that feel like they fell off your Facebook feed, or make you wish your Facebook feed had people like this.

The Bad
The lack of a real menacing bad guy.

The Ugly
The high school football game scene that looks like actors trying to look like they’re at a high school football game.

The Review
The movie starts….and I don’t really pay attention other than I realize this isn’t a documentary. OK. It’s a movie. Some basic plot development happens. Three journalists are actually going to follow up on this ad. A cynical 30+ year-old, an eager newb, and the attractive heroine also on her first real assignment.

They find the guy, and he’s your basic Facebook nutjob; menial job, ranting about the government and conspiracy theories. They decide to approach him, and there is a simply brilliant scene which grabs me. The poor schlub is stacking cans of soup at his grocery store job, but he arranges them perfectly. It’s like the Andy Warhol soup cans. There’s beauty in the repetitive simplicity. The attractive heroine plays into the spy story to hook the protagonist, who believes he is an elite thinker/spy……stacking soup cans.

From here the movie has me. I’m not going to ruin it for you.
The characters are simple and real, and isn’t that what our friends are? Simple and real. Not stupid. We just understand them, simply.
The cynical guy is just looking to hook up, and abuse the company expense account.
The newb is looking to begin a career.
The heroine is looking for a story, but really she wants more out of life than a job.
The crazy guy is just misunderstood.

As the story progresses we find that the crazy guy with the ad really has a heart of gold. It may be childish, but he’s honest and real. You can’t help but love the poor guy, and the doe-eyed brunette is smitten too. (I really want to ruin this scene for you. I won’t.)

The cynical guy is meanwhile chasing down an old flame and lost youth. This ends in frustration, but he does the only heroic thing he can do. Make sure the 21-year-old intern doesn’t waste his youth. A night of alcohol-fueled debauchery ensues with a group of strangers that we don’t care about other than we’ve all had a night filled with strangers that were our best friends for that ONE night.

Sadly the next morning is filled with the clarity of being a responsible adult. We all have to make our walk of shame. We were lied to, and we told some lies. This is ‘the fight’ scene of the movie. Dammit it sucks being an adult, and understanding the world. It would be so much easier if a time machine existed.

The movie is somewhat sappy from this point, but I’m reminded of an old Siskel & Ebert review where the movie, despite its flaws, is so lovable you have believe in it. The characters are so relate-able. Their emotions seem real. The ending doesn’t matter. It’s simple, but that’s the magic here. *POOF* The crazy guy had it all figured out in the end.
I gave it 5 Netflix stars.

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Posted by on May 26, 2013 in Reviews, Uncategorized


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Woodford Reserve – Double Oaked or Drinking While Inside a Bourbon Barrel

Aging perfection.

A cool, misty day with friends and loved ones in the heart of horse country. Touring the Bluegrass State’s finest bourbon distilleries along a country road that winds along the Kentucky River. It’s 2:45pm and the fog hasn’t lifted deep in the bottom of the valley. We slow down to admire an abandoned distillery, and stop to snap pics of those ‘white trees’ for the artist in the car. (Sycamores to any Kentuckian that knows their basic foliage and understands what a mess they make in the fall.)

We can’t dally though. The tour starts at 3pm. We’re rushing to our second bourbon distillery tour of the day. We had just left the fun & informative Buffa

lo Trace tour. So why rush to another tour. They’re all the same, right?

The road turns away from the river and the fog turns to drizzle. 3:00pm exactly and we arrive. 3:05pm and we’re being thanked for making a tour. Only 2 other people had shown up. The drizzle turns to a down pour.

The informative tour is a bit stuffy. Less fun, but the class of the place is unmistakeable. Woodford Reserve isn’t there to party. It’s made to enjoy and respect. This is what a life well-lived tastes like, and this is how they make that taste.

The tour continues into the warm warehouse. No modern environmental controls. The thick stone walls make this place naturally warm in the winter. Naturally cool in the summer. The bourbon makes the angels’ share. A smell that can only be described as heavenly. Even a non-drinker (my loved one touring with me) can wallow in this aroma. Barrels tower overhead. Dates cover a decade or more of hard work and care. You’re on hallowed ground here.

On to the more modern bottling areas. Yellow safety lines and warnings protect expensive equipment. The tour guide drones on with the machinations of how it’s all done, like an amateur magician giving away the master’s secrets.
But what is this? Woodford-Reserve-Double-Oaked-1
A Woodford Reserve label, but with a copper sheen. Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. “Due out in February. We’re releasing twice as much this year,” the proud guide says, as if letting you in on a secret. Crates of boxes waiting to be filled with amber treasure.

The tour ends with a basic sampling and a souvenir. A drive through more horse country. On to lunch at a Kentucky treasure, Wallace Station. A UK game is on the radio as we drive past the castle, Keeneland, and Calumet Farm. Can this day be any more Kentucky?
Later we all meet again to party.


It’s now February. Still cold and drizzle, but there it is in the store, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. Now it’s in my home. Taking me back to that day. A glass sets atop a hand-painted coaster given to me by the artist mentioned earlier.
This is bourbon perfection.
It’s a glass of friendship and happiness. New acquaintances becoming friends. New experiences during a classic experince: the drink with friends. Double Oaked is a bourbon tour on your couch. No cold & mist can dampen this occasion. The cold makes you want to be warm and comfy. The mist just keeps the scent low and strong. Weather a bloodhound would love. Every drink is an occasion to itself.

The oakey scent is that of a bourbon barrel. Several times between drinks I’ve paused just to inhale the aroma again and again. Charred oak barrel wafts out of the glass, carrying along vanilla, summer bluegrass,  and the purity of limestone filtered water. This is a glass of Kentucky. It’s a glass of that day all over again. Perfection.

The Disclaimer

Everything you read above is true. But I still prefer Blanton’s over the Double Oaked. That’s just me. I see Double-Oaked as a top-shelf equal. The flavor is what bourbon strives to be.

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Posted by on February 10, 2013 in Reviews, Uncategorized


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Fictional Beer in Review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Posted by on December 30, 2012 in Uncategorized


Do / Don’t at Disney

So we went to Walt Disney World 2 weeks ago. One of the best things I’ve done as an adult.

Not-So-Scary Halloween Fireworks

There will be many posts about Disney. It was an awesome family trip. We stayed on property, immersed in Disney. Muchplanning went into our trip but there is a real learning curve to Disney World. We messed some things up. Here’s a list of things to do and things to avoid at the most magical place on earth.

DO – Stay on property. You’re missing some of the magic by shlepping off to your car every night, fighting traffic, paying to park, etc. If you want to save money don’t go to Disney.

DON’T – Look at price tags while you’re there. Decide what you want out of the trip, where to eat, souvenirs, etc. all before you go. Save & budget, then go have fun. Weighing financial decisions while there spoils the fun. Know what you want up front & go for it. Ignore the rest.

DO – Go to any special Disney events going on. We paid extra to go to Mickey’s

Not-so-scary Halloween Party. BEST PART OF THE TRIP! I’m sure any similar event would be worth it. Also the Food & Wine Festival was going on at EPCOT. Great fun but we planned poorly and couldn’t fully enjoy it.

DON’T – Overdo it. If you stay on property getting back to the hotel is simple & easy. Take a rest day and enjoy your


“Never go to the dark place, Simba.”

resort. This is why staying on property is so great. The resort is a day of fun to itself. We didn’t utilize our resort enough and I really regret it. We stayed at the brand-new Art of Animation Resort and there were daily drawing lessons from Disney artists, pool parties, pool games, pool bar, themed play/climb areas, games in the gift shop, an arcade, and the resort was a work of art.

DO – Shop at Downtown Disney. I don’t like shopping areas like this. I loved this one. The LEGO Store is amazing, and is only topped by the T-REX restaurant next door. Enjoy the meteor shower!

DON’T – Waste your time on basic table service meals. The food at Disney is very good, but nothing I had was world-class. The breakfast at Kona Cafe at the Polynesian was average. You want restaurants at Disney to be special for other reasons: character breakfast (Chef Mickey’s food was great too), a wall that is an aquarium (Coral Reef), giant animatronic dinosaurs plus a meteor shower plus aquarium plus giant ice-cave dining room with color-changing walls (T-REX), Luau Show at the Polynesian. All of these were WOW!

DO – Resort hop. Go to as many resorts as possible and see the sites. Grand Floridian is stunning. Polynesian is so relaxing. Wish we had seen more. Damn kids.

DON’T – Take the kids everywhere. Figure out a way for mom & dad to have a nice meal, alone. We didn’t. REGRET.


Ferry to Magic Kingdom & a Steamboat Willie Boat to the Polynesian.

DO – Take as many transportation options as possible. Monorail, little boat to/from the Magic Kingdom, boat across the world in EPCOT, buses….hell we even got a van ride from the Disney Vacation Club. Not many spots in America where you can not drive for a week. I didn’t see a car key for over 7 full days. That’s a vacation.
I could talk for hours about Disney. I’m an addict now. Trying to figure out how to go back and make the trip even better.

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Posted by on October 20, 2012 in Uncategorized


32 NFL Teams – 1 Magnificent Feast

I’m inviting my 32 best friends & family over for an NFL themed feast. This is what they’re bringing. (In no real order with plenty of mixed-metaphors on the side.)

1. Dallas Cowboy Baked Turkey Breast (white meat) — The center of many NFL feasts & traditions. To many this is the feast, but most realize that it’s disappointing. Even in its best years it was actually bland (Aikman/Staubach), but dressed up with lots of gravy (E. Smith/Irvin/Too Tall Jones) made it a worthy classic centerpiece. Today it’s remembered better than it ever really was and comes in a flashy dish.

2. Deep Fried New England Patriot Turkey — The new way to deliver the classic. It’s moist, succulent, packed with flavor, and talked about by anyone that’s ever had it. There are a lot of technical parts/setup that some may not understand, but it brings more to the table than anything else. It’s somewhat dangerous, so if an inexperienced assistant chef doesn’t know what they’re doing it may blow up (McDaniels) or be underdone and leave everyone hungry (Weiss).

3. Steeler Sugar-Cured Ham — A classic from years ago that still can hold its own as the centerpiece dish. Many people what to leave this style of food in the past as a boring entree that doesn’t fit with today’s style. But those people are jealous of the old family recipe that they can’t seem to copy or don’t have the patience to learn. Real foodies (fans) know it as a classic that fed legions of people and will continue to do so.

4. Green Bay Packer Salt-Cured Country Ham — People were doing it this way before there was a feast. It’s the old way of doing things, but it still belongs at the table because it is so good. Great when it’s hot (Holmgren – 1996). Great when it’s cold (Lombardi/Starr – Ice Bowl). Great with cheese (Favre). It’s the classic that made a Sunday meal into a feast to behold. Then the turkeys showed up and stole its glory.

5. San Francisco 49er Oyster Casserole — An obscure dish for decades until a family with real culinary skills turned it into a classic that everyone loved. Then the head chefs sold the recipe (DeBartalo – Walsh), but never told anyone how to select the best oysters. It’s been sadly disappointing ever since. Most of it ends up in the disposal.

6. Washington Redskin Broccoli Casserole — A stinky staple of any meal, dressed up with cheese and crumbs. The head chef (Snyder) buys the most expensive pans, oven, seasonings he can, but it’s all wasted on bad base ingredients (McNabb, Haynesworth). It takes up too much space on the buffet table. Doesn’t taste too good either. Also it seems to leave a foul funk in the bathroom after the meal is over. Why do we have this every year again? Oh yeah, tradition and a couple of your uncles like it.

7. Bronco Chili — A classic dish in its own right, and loved by most. It just doesn’t fit at the traditional holiday feast table. We kept trying it for years and it disappointed except for a couple of times (Elway). Doesn’t live up to hype now, and tastes best on cool Sunday in October. Rarely so good in late December though.

8. New Orleans Etoufee — A laughable, misunderstood dish that wasn’t doing anything right for years. But did you try that new recipe last year!!?? Man I hope whoever (Peyton/Brees) brought it last year shows up again. Reserving judgment, but it’s earned high honors lately.

9. Chicago Deep Dish Pizza — A loud, messy dish made by a brash uncle (Ditka) that knows how to make one thing. There was that one year when mom was sick and this pizza delivered a feast that was more party than family get-together. Man it was great. Too bad the guys he brought that year focused more on partying and killed too many brain cells in the late 80’s & 90’s. He’s almost got it together again though.

10. Raider Sprouts — Everyone hates brussell sprouts. Everyone except for that one asshole patriarch (Davis) in the family that insists they’re good. He’s gonna bring them every year. Make sure people eat at least one, and F&*$ you for trying to change the recipe.

11. Viking Purple (Green) Bean Casserole — On the table every year. Dressed up with fried onions, red peppers, spices, etc. Hell someone even threw some old cheese on it a couple of times (Favre). Too bad it’s the same disappointing green beans when you dip into them (and the cheese went from Wisconsin gouda to busted-up limburger). There’s a new soon-to-be-ex spouse that brings them every year. The dish finds a new way to disappoint every year.

12. Kansas City Barbeque — Man this stuff is great. It’s what tailgating is all about! Too bad this is a special holiday feast and not tailgating. There’s always a few cousins that can’t stop talking about it even during this meal. A classic for sure that dresses up tired meat (Montana/Allen/Vermeil), but rarely finds a spot on the menu late in the year.

13. Charger Steak Sizzle — Your hot-shot aunt & uncle for southern California talk this dish up every year. Then they show up empty handed on feast day with a bunch of lame excuses on why they couldn’t deliver. Some years they just don’t show. No one misses them (Fouts/Rivers/all Chargers ever).

14. Giant Mashed Potatoes — As classic as they come (Gifford/Parcells), but rarely a featured dish. With some butter and gravy they can really satisfy and make a meal great. How do they end up so far down the list most years?

15. Philadelphia Stuffing — Can’t have a holiday feast without stuffing can you? Actually you can, and stuffing isn’t required for turkey, ham, or anything else. Lots of people fill up on it, but they’d be better off with more turkey or ham on their plates. People that say they like stuffing more than the meat are just being assholes.

16. Miami Dolphin Cocktails — Loved by many at parties, but only your alcoholic aunt is drinking them on Christmas afternoon. Can’t wait for the New Year when they turn it all around and get back to the way they were in their youth. Been saying that for almost 40 years now.

17. Deviled Jets Eggs — A classic recipe from the old days, but now brought in a new dish altogether. Everyone has one or two just to compare farts later (Sanchez to Namath). Good for a laugh with your boisterous Uncle Ryan.

18. Colt Rolls — Can’t call it a feast without them, but rarely satisfy you on their own (Unitas). One year even the Jet eggs were better. Once we got yeast rolls from a restaurant owner friend. Wish he’d come back again (Dungy).

19. Falcon Beer — Hardly a dish. Most don’t even bother making it, but whoever found that special recipe (Ryan) sure has made it a hit. Maybe they can pair it with a real dish.

20. Baltimore Bourbon & Coke — What your alcoholic uncle is drinking (Modell). They were really a different person in the past. He’s got it together since about 2000, but his recent new found youth is fading we fear. Let’s just hope life doesn’t beat him up too bad and he’s got a few more years.

21. Cleveland ______ — The druggy cousin that lost it all and couldn’t be found on a map for years. Now he shows up empty-handed looking for a meal. Maybe he’s found a mentor.

22. Jacksonville Mac & Cheese — Hardly a ‘classic’, but you have to have something for the kids to eat. It’s really good some years and surprises.

23. St. Louis Ribs — Too much of a mess to deal with most years, but when someone takes the time to make them right they sure are good. Your cousin should’ve written down that recipe from a few years back. I think he’s almost figured it out again though.

24. Tampa Bay Rum Cake — Made right it’s great. Rarely made right. Usually just beats out the bad stuff on the menu and gives those that try it a little sugar rush.

25. Houston Butterscotch Pie — Almost too sweet, but man is it good (Schaub/Johnson). Won’t fill you up though and can’t stand on it’s own due to a lack of real substance (defense).

26. Tennessee Mixed Nuts — Something to chew on while waiting for the real meal to start. But it’s just damned nuts (Young/Fisher/owner).

27. Seattle Fresh Ground Coffee — Enjoy before, after, or with your meal. Definitely not filling, and just makes you wanna shit (Carroll).

28. Detroit Boiled Sweet Potatoes — Classic ingredient, but no one has a clue how to make them right. Boiled? Baked with marshmallows? Why do these suck so bad? Who cares? No one is even taking the time to try anymore.

29. Bengal Fruitcake — It’s  actually good if you give the recipe chance, and pair the right ingredients with the right chef. Usually it’s been too full of nuts and bad ingredients to be any good at all, and I think the chefs (Mike Brown/Lewis) are mailing it in. Maybe someone will find the hand scrawled recipe that great-grandpa (Paul Brown) wrote when he helped start the feast.

30. Buffalo empty dish — In years past your sweetest aunt made some great dishes. Then a series of tragedy. The dog snuck in and ate it. The next year she slipped outside and spilled it in the yard. The next year she had a wreck on the way over. The next year she burnt the house down trying to make whatever it was. Even her kids (fans) are suicidal now.

31. Carolina Cool Whip — The kid home from college needed to bring something and their ditzy girlfriend showed up with a tub of this. Thanks. We’ll send them out for ice so their constant grab-assing doesn’t offend grandma.

32. Arizona Soft Drinks — The one person in the family that can’t even make tea buys them on the way over. One year they made home-made root beer that was really good and almost stole the show with some store-bought St. Louis ribs (Warner). Now they’ve lost their job and are buying store brand crap. Big-K, Faygo, and Dr. Bubble are hardly cutting it Uncle Weisenhunt, and keep your belligerent kid (Anderson) off the XBox.

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Posted by on December 11, 2010 in Uncategorized


My Weight Loss Story

WARNING – There are no transitional sentences in this article.

In the beginning…

I was a fat kid as far back as I can remember. There are photos of me at 3 years and earlier where I wasn’t fat, but I don’t remember those days. I remember fat jokes from kindergarten on, so that’s pretty much the beginning: overweight, big-boned, husky…fat.

Why? Southern comfort food with a sedentary life. Nintendo + Paula Deen like mother = fat. Not to mention too many trips to a local convenient store for Mickey Mouse ice cream bars and such.

5th grade = 265 pounds & basically taking up two seats at the lunchroom table.

Kids say the darndest meanest things

I was picked on. Oh well. I was tall & fat so I bullied some kids too. It evens out. Skipping the tear jerking, but now humorous stories of chubby-dom.

I get to 13, 7th grade. I’m old enough to join a gym. My parents support me in this & take me to a new gym owned by a high school friend of my dad. He was big too, and realized a problem getting winded going DOWN a long flight of steps (uneven chunks of concrete down a hillside).

March of 7th grade year – still 265 pounds

We met a great guy, Jerry, that ran a hard-core aerobics class. It’s misnomer to call what he did aerobics. Today it would be rebranded P90-Convict-Total-Hardcore-DVD-Kung-KaPow and sold at 3am on every cable channel. Jerry was the closest thing to a personal trainer I’ve ever had. In short: run-run-run crunch-crunch-crunch (not the yummy snackfood crunch either).

August, start of 8th grade – 220 pounds (plus a foot taller)

High School & other formative years

Pretty much stayed the same. I felt good. Looked good, but not an adonis, star athlete or anything.

Stopped going to the gym, but not sure why. I never got the concept of pointless body-building exercises. Just not my thing. Maybe it was because the muscle-heads couldn’t make it through 5 minutes of light aerobics. I saw more benefit in being able to run and maintain activity over power-lifting in 30 second spurts from positions you’ll never assume in daily life.

Graduation, 1996 – 215 pounds Note: This is 50 pounds less than I was in FIFTH grade or 11 years old.

The Roaring Twenties

Just before turning 21 my dad died suddenly and tragically. I spent my twenties depressed mostly.

Dad’s funeral – 220 pounds

One year later – 350 pounds (estimated. I didn’t weigh myself for years)

The Dot-com Bust

I finally got it together somewhat and started walking & trying to run at a nearby park. I would lay in the floor and cry in pain after 30 minute walks. My ankles would swell and cut off circulation to my feet. You know that feeling of your feet ‘waking up’ after being ‘asleep’; multiply by 100. I pushed through.

2002 – 330 pounds with solid abs under my fat after following an ab workout plan for a few months.

The Real Estate Bubble

After moving to a new apartment with a pool, tennis courts, and a gym…

2004 – 300 pounds

Hey! I said no transitional material didn’t I?

The Biggest Loser

Came in second in my office’s Biggest Loser contest. Started with the Biggest Loser 30-Day Jump Start book we had bought a year earlier. Took me 6 weeks to get through it. If I missed a day I didn’t care. I just refused to miss two-days in a row. I got a lot of great recipes that I still use.

After that was over the contest was half complete. I just kept working out however I could. I jogged for over a mile or did day 30’s workout again.

I was (and still am) working third shift. My greatest commitment was not to let late night schedules be an excuse, but rather an opportunity. I started going upstairs during my lunch hour and working out in the hallway. Push-ups, crunches, burpees, crab-walk to bear walk, dips (on the window sill), military press (with the fire extinguisher from the wall). Fat people got excuses. I got creative. I also added in an exercise mat and some elastic bands.

Now I’ve bought a kettlebell. It hates me I think. It definitely has no pity or remorse.

I’m also on the 100 Push-Up plan.

2010 – 260 pounds and dropping

What does any of this have to do with beer (real or fictional)?

Beer is full of calories so it was complete fiction in my life for several weeks. The few Buds & Millers I had one weekend out of 12 don’t qualify as beer anyway.

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Posted by on July 5, 2010 in Uncategorized