Beer of the Month - January, 2009

January 2nd, 2009
Anchor Steam Liberty Ale
Anchor Steam Liberty Ale

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Yes Man

December 31st, 2008

Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1068680/

Carl Allen (Jim Carrey) is an exaggerated version of anyone who has difficulty committing to things (or people). The events in his life have caused him to shy away from any engagement, regardless of how innocent; something needs to change. Coincidentally Carl runs into an old friend who says that becoming a "Yes Man" has changed his life. A Yes Man, from the seminar Carl attends, is someone who takes a vow not to turn down any new opportunities, effectively saying "yes" to everything. Carl commits to changing his life; he takes the Yes Man vow and attacks life with new vigor.

I can understand that an actor wants to grow and continually take on new challenges, but Jim Carrey is so incredibly talented as a comedic leading man. Some people consider his more serious roles as worthwhile endeavors, but I disagree. The only move away from comedy that I have forgiven Mr. Carrey is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and I will go so far as to say that it is one of my favorite movies. Jim Carrey brings a funny movie to life. Yes Man is a blend of the funny and dramatic movies that Carrey has done. The movie is full of laughs, but it has a stomachable, if not endearing message. He does add a few of his (over-the-top) ad-lib moments, but you wouldn't watch Good Times and not expect Jimmie Walker to say "Dy-no-mite!" either.

Zooey Deschanel was perfect as the movie's leading lady. She provided the perfect amount of eccentricity to play Yin to Carl Allen's pre-vow Yang. She is cute and I am glad they didn't cast someone more socially-deemed "beautiful" to play this part, because it would not have been believable. She is great.

Rhys Darby was a great choice for Norman, Carl's boss. He was great in the part and the two costume parties he throws might have been the two main highlights of the movie for me. We'll see if this movie can give him a more mainstream American following than his work on Flight of the Conchords. He is very entertaining.

I took Yes Man in as a matinee with the family. Granted, it is a family that currently has no little children, but it was a great family movie. There were a lot of laughs and a tender moment or two for the romantics amongst us (but be wary of some offensive language). This is not an award-winning film, but I enjoyed it a good deal.

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2006 Red Truck Merlot

December 30th, 2008

I had originally seen this listed on some "notable wines under $15" list. I was pleased to find this bottle at my local Kroger for $9.99. I am not normally a big fan of Merlot, but unfortunately I have had a few Merlots that I adored, so I find myself going back from time to time. This wine was not one that I adored. It was a little light on the color, for a Merlot. And it lacked the BIG BOLD flavor you want from a Merlot. It has good fruit on the nose and when it hits your lips it hints at being fruit-forward and then falls apart. I hate to perpetuate the stereotype, but this is very much a "grocery store" wine*. It is under $10 and is drinkable, but not something I would buy again. And it is certainly not something I would suggest to someone who likes Merlot.

*There is often a general bias against the mass-produced wines that are available in almost every grocery/convenience store. The producers opt for quantity over quality which helps keep the prices low.

Wine of the Month - January, 2009

December 29th, 2008
2006 Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon
2006 Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon

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Photo Theme of the Month - January, 2009

December 26th, 2008

Book of the Month - January, 2009

December 23rd, 2008

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot DíazThings have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd, a New Jersey romantic who dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the fukú -- the ancient curse that has haunted Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still dreaming of his first kiss, is only its most recent victim -- until the fateful summer that he decides to be its last.

With dazzling energy and insight, Junot Díaz immerses us in the uproarious lives of our hero Oscar, his runaway sister Lola, and their ferocious beauty-queen mother Belicia, and in the family's epic journey from Santo Domingo to Washington Heights to New Jersey's Bergenline and back again. Rendered with uncommon warmth and humor, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao presents an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and the endless human capacity to persevere -- and to risk it all -- in the name of love.

A true literary triumph, this novel confirms Junot Díaz as one of the best and most exciting writers of our time.

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December 22nd, 2008
Susanna Clark - Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - 198The gentlemen among my readers will smile to themselves and say that women never did understand business, but the ladies may agree with me that Mrs Brandy understood her business very well, for the chief business of Mrs Brandy's life was to make Stephen Black as much in love with her as she was with him.

Movie of the Month - January, 2009

December 19th, 2008

Love Me if You Dare

Love Me If You DareLOVE ME IF YOU DARE depicts the romantic story of Julian and Sophie, who meet in grade school and create an intense game of "Dare" to distract them from the harsh realities of their lives. Over time their game becomes a mutual infatuation that binds them for life. Ultimately the childhood game remains with them into adulthood where it challenges their most cherished fantasies. Eventually, each of them is forced to decide between the game and genuine romance.

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December 18th, 2008
Harry and TontoHarry: I still know a lot of people here, Tonto. When you know people, that's home.

Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb

December 17th, 2008

Assassin's Apprentice - Robin HobbYoung Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father's gruff stableman. He is treated as an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz's blood runs the magic Skill -- and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family.

As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.

A young boy is abandoned and left in the charge of the prince's men; the boy, they've said, is the prince's bastard. It is more than irony that descends upon the royal family when news that Prince Chivalry, at least in one act, has not lived up to his name. Upon some assemblance of acceptance, the young boy begins his education -- bastard or not, the son of a prince should be educated in books and battle. He also secretly begins his other training -- as an assassin for the king.

While Robin Hobb's work was basically recommended to me as a whole, this particular series, The Farseer, was said to be her best. I love the idea of a boy from a very young age being trained to do the king's most secret bidding. And just like that I am engrossed in these books.

I am pleased with the recommendation so far. Much of the action in the first book happens elsewhere and is then retold, rather than our young protagonist being there to experience everything first-hand. And there was a lot of setup in the first book, but that is fine because there was a lot to set up. By the end of the book, things are really set in motion and there is a great momentum that will carry me forward. I just hope that the momentum continues when I delve into book 2.

After one book I love that this is a three-book series. I am currently in the middle of a few series that seem neverending. My opinion may change as I get deeper into the trilogy, but for now I am excited for my next dose of Robin Hobb.

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