Bones – “The Don’t in the Do” Review

After last week’s disappointing episode of Bones, I felt a little uneasy going into this week’s episode, “The Don’t in the Do.” Although this episode still showed no sign of Parker, it was definitely not disappointing.

The episode begins with blue-headed birds falling from the sky at a trash dump after eating the remains from a blue corpse. The Jeffersonian team quickly identifies the victim as a male hair stylist who also had sex with some of his clients and had a drug problem. The first suspects are obviously his clients that he slept with and his drug dealer. However, it turns out that the murderer was actually his shampoo boy who hoped to get his own chair at the salon they worked at by killing the victim.

Much of the episode focuses on how everyone is dealing with Brennan having a little bit of post pregnancy blues. She feels uncomfortable in all of her old clothes since her body has changed a bit. Booth is worried about her and Angela wants to help too since she can understand after having gone through the same thing. Angela takes her out to a spa for facials and a massage, which clearly helps her out. Sweets takes Booth to a lingerie shop so he can buy something for Brennan so she knows he still thinks she’s attractive. The episode ends on a very positive note with Booth and Brennan enjoying dinner together with plans to head upstairs and try on the lingerie.

There were a few moments in this episode that got a little weird. In the beginning half of the episode, Arastoo the intern is being overexcited about his job and making everyone confused until he finally says he is excited because he’s going to be published in a forensic anthropology journal. Only later does Brennan totally shut him down and tell him he is not going to be published after all, leaving Arastoo quite embarrassed and everyone feeling quite awkward. I felt even more awkward when Angela and Brennan went to the spa. As they were getting their massages, they both began to say things like, “Oh yeah, that’s it” and moan, and they dragged it on to the point that I was just waiting for one of them to have a full on orgasm. Luckily that awkwardness ended quickly with Brennan getting a phone call she couldn’t not answer (thank goodness). However there was a little more awkward when we learn that the killer kept the victims scalp and hair which he put on display (GROSS!).  Despite all of the awkwardness, this was a good episode. The interesting aspects of the crime as well as good character interaction allowed me to look past the awkwardness and enjoy the show!

8.5 out of 10

Advertisements

Cali-Belgique IPA – Stone Brewing Co.

Stone’s Cali-Belgique is their classic IPA fermented with Belgian yeasts, 6.9% ABV.

Reviewed in a frosted hefeweizen glass.

Appearance: Pours a bubbly, light-shaded golden orange. It produces a one-finger head that dissipates rather quickly until it is non-existent. Zero lacing occurs throughout the glass, except for a bit of residue that is left by the head.

Smell: Has a great, complex aroma consisting of sweet, fruity notes backed by hints of light bread and malts.

Taste: Very sweet on the palate, with notes of light bread and orange. The Belgian yeast is also at the forefront, and produces a soy-like taste that accentuates the initial sweetness. Transitions to a citrusy, hoppy punch that is identical to the standard Stone IPA, but is more mellow on the finish with only a slight bitterness that lingers harmoniously with the yeast. There is a slight tinge of alcohol as well, but it is not overbearing or disruptive in any way.

Mouthfeel: A medium body that leans more on the softer side. Carbonation is fairly moderate. Overall, quite a fluffy mouthfeel.

Conclusion: Stone has created a fantastic beer with the Cali-Belgique. It’s not a drastic change in recipe from their standard IPA, but the added Belgian yeasts really do make a difference, and the end result is a surprisingly balanced brew. Despite the yeast’s lighter flavors in contrast to the hop’s citrusy, bitter profile, everything meshes well in the finish and leaves you wanting a second sip. It’s deliciously drinkable! I’d say my only complaints about this beer are it’s lack of greater complexity when compared to Stone’s more ambitious IPA collaborations, and it’s rather subdued hoppiness, but regardless, the Cali-Belgique a great addition to this brewery’s already outstanding lineup.

91 out of 100

Pliny the Elder – Russian River Brewing Co.

Pliny the Elder is a Double IPA, 8% ABV.

Bottled on 4/3/2012.

Appearance: Aggressive pour yields a two finger, fluffy, off white head. Excellent head retention. Color-wise, this beer is a hazy dark-orange with hues of amber. Sticky lacing coats the glass after every sip.

Smell: Pure, fresh hops. Hints of grapefruit and orange. A bit of pine and resin. Smell is more citrusy and bright than the taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation. Smooth and velvety on the tongue with a hint of bubbliness.

Taste: One word: balance. Breathing in while taking a sip of this beer combines a citrusy and tropical hop profile from the aroma with a piney and earthy hop profile from the taste, giving you the ultimate hop experience. This intense hopinness does not come at the cost of being extremely bitter. The bitterness is present but subdued, allowing the hop flavor to shine. Caramel malt backbone kicks in at the last second to round out this beer perfectly.

Overall: There is a great deal of hype surrounding this beer. It sits at #5 on the Beer Advocate list of the top 100 beers and is widely known as one of the best IPA’s available. Does it live up to the hype? It absolutely does. The complexity of this beer is astounding. Each sip contains so many subtleties that it’s almost difficult to take them all in.

This is a beer that definitely requires multiple tastings to appreciate. When I first tried this beer, I was still pretty new to the craft beer scene and I thought it was a well done IPA, but nothing to write home about. Every time I’ve had it since then (4 times in total), I’ve understood more why this beer is so loved. The brewers at Russian River are truly masters of the IPA.

100 out of 100

In Case You Missed It: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8

I remember being a kid in the ’90s, watching television and seeing commercials for the WB show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and thinking “What is that crazy show?!” but never once watching an episode. That is, until I got Netflix in the summer of 2010. The whole seven season series was (and still is) available for instant streaming, and Matt Rhodes suggested we check it out! He probably later regretted this because I was hooked immediately. Any time he would suggest watching TV, all I wanted to watch was Buffy.  Needless to say, we flew through the series, and I felt as if my world was shattering with the destruction of Sunnydale, the death of Spike, and a new reality in which there are slayers sprouting up all over the place.

Lucky for me, and for all other Buffy fans out there (but mostly me), Joss Whedon had decided to continue the series as a comic through Dark Horse Comics back in 2007, so I didn’t have to wait years to pick back up with my favorite characters. I just had to wait for my eBay purchase of every single issue of Buffy Season Eight to arrive in the mail. So, in case you missed it, here’s what happened in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight.

Buffy Season Eight is broken up into seven main story arcs with several issues/episodes here and there which provide back story, comic relief, and some side stories.

“The Long Way Home” (issues 1-4) catches us up with Buffy and the gang (now accompanied by thousands of new slayers) in Scotland. Dawn is a giant, one-eyed Xander is a watcher to masses of slayers, Amy is a mess, somehow surviving Sunnydale’s destruction, a floating/flying mysterious new villain named “Twilight,” skinless Warren somehow alive. The return of Warren evoked a “WHAT?!” out loud, and “Twilight” made me question whether I was reading Buffy, or the awful teen novel series about sparkly vampires, but alas I read on.

“No Future For You” (issues 6-9) brings Faith into the picture, killing kid-vampires; as well as Principle Wood, and Giles wearing a Yellow Submarine sweatshirt (um, awesome!). Faith goes undercover in the UK where she has to kill another slayer who wants to take over as “Queen” of the slayers by taking out Buffy.

“Wolves at the Gate” (issues 12-15) starts out with Buffy having a lesbian experience with Satsu, another slayer, who lifted a spell on her with true loves kiss (Sleeping Beauty much?). A gang of Japanese vampires who have stolen Dracula’s powers break into the castle in Scotland and steel the scythe. The army of slayers head to Japan to wage war on these vamps (who are planning to make all slayers human again), take back the scythe and kill all of the vampires.

“Time of Your Life” (16-19) turns giant-Dawn into centaur-Dawn, and Buffy gets sent into the future in New York where she meets a slayer, Melaka Fray.  Fray and Buffy fight because they are both being fed different information, and Buffy ends up having to kill Dark Willow, who is centuries old.  We learn that Riley is a double agent, telling Buffy he is her inside man when really he is working for Twilight (this really pissed me off, I was actually mad at Riley, a fictional character!).

The next several issues are all singles, in which Buffy has a cool cartoon dream where we see classic Buffy characters like Cordelia and Principle Snyder, Vampire Harmony gets a TV show on MTV, a rogue slayer causes chaos in Italy, and centaur-Dawn becomes doll-Dawn, then her normal self again.

“Retreat” (issues 26-30) takes everyone to Tibet to be trained how to hide their magic by Oz who has learned to suppress the wolf inside. Twilight, Amy, Warren, Riley, and the military are trying to track them, in order to attach them. Xander and Dawn become a couple (umm, what?) and all of the Wiccans and slayers lose their powers. When Twilight and villain crew show up, they are forced to fight back with regular human strength and military weapons. They summon three wrathful goddesses who end up hurting people on both sides of the battle. Buffy somehow gains the ability to fly, and we learn that Riley was actually a good guy after all!

“Twilight” (issues 32-35) bring us Buffy with super powers (she is literally faster than a speeding bullet), power which she is absorbing from other dying slayers around the world, and Twilight has kidnapped Faith, Giles, and Andrew. Buffy pokes fun at the awful Twilight series (thank god!), and we learn that under his mask, Twilight is actually Angel. Buffy tries to fight him, but they end up glowing, floating, kissing, and fucking. Giles explains that the events are the universe responding to the change in the slayer-demon-vampire balance. Buffy and Angel fuck their way to a place called Twilight, a new reality where they are meant to evolve a new race and a new world, but (typical) Buffy decides to return to her friends and family in the lower plane, where Spike has returned with a bunch of insect peons.

“Last Gleaming” (issues 36-40) concludes season 8. Spike reveals that they must dig up the Seed of Wonder, the source of all the magic in the world, in order to stop the demons which were released when Buffy and Angel’s fucking opened the new dimension. The seed is being held/protected in the rubble of Sunnydale, by The Master. Angel is consumed by a Twilight demon, which leads to him killing Giles (NO!!!), and Buffy destroying The Seed with the scythe in her devastation. The world is now without magic, except for the slayers and demons whose magic is within them. Buffy works at a coffee shop in San Francisco, sleeping on Dawn and Xander’s couch. Many slayers around the world feel betrayed, as does Willow. The world has definitely changed this time, and Buffy is responsible, as usual.

Overall I had some mixed reactions to Buffy Season Eight, but it ended with a bang (pun intended) and I would rather have a less than perfect Buffy continuation than none at all. The cover art is FANTASTIC throughout the season, and if the artists had the time and money to make all the art that perfect, reading the issues would feel and look just like watching episodes. In case you missed it, Buffy Season Eight was a little rough, but it was Buffy, and I’ll never say I didn’t like it. I personally can’t wait to see where it goes in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine!

Review: The Cabin in the Woods [No Spoilers!]

Sometimes a genre of film becomes so overused that the only possible next step for it is to delve into the realm of parody. Horror has most definitely been a casualty of such circumstance, and to a greater extent so has its sub-genres. It happened to the slasher with Scream, whose extreme subversion and comical clichés wholly brought about the genre’s death almost immediately, and it also happened to the zombie genre with Shaun of the Dead, whose quirky and dark humor overshadowed subtle jabs at the film’s more serious counterparts. The Cabin in the Woods attempts such parody with these and many of the other sub-genres of horror, but ultimately pushes past any and all boundaries.

Under the creative directing and writing of Cloverfield’s Drew Goddard and Buffy’s Joss Whedon, The Cabin in the Woods really shines as a horror genre buster. The overt cliché of teens going away to an isolated cabin is the main focus here, as one could garner from the name, and pays homage to some of the greats – Friday the Thirteenth, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, the not very well known Cube and of course, Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead. Yet, what makes this movie truly amazing is that it combines various other aspects of horror along with science fiction, which is used partly as a narrative mechanism to give logic to everything that happens to the teens.

Every interaction the teens engage in around the cabin activates a clichéd outcome, whether they are reading strange Latin from a diary, which raises the dead from their graves, or solving a puzzle sphere that summons a hellish creature (both of which are very Lovecraftian in essence). The film pokes fun at the very clichés that inspired it through their executions, while at the same time making obvious their stagnating presence in the horror genre. Of course, this is all supplemented by the controlling party’s knowledge of, and power over, what is going to happen to the teens. The comedic, office-buddy duo of Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford really get the laughs going through their explicit expression of what evil is going to pop up next – almost in the same vein as MST3K – while at the same time giving clues to the audience as to the overarching purpose of their actions. The teens themselves add to the comedy as well through their stereotyped and role-specific characterizations, which is partly caused by the people behind everything. All of their responsive actions are reflections of what the average stupid teen would think of doing in the films that CitW pays homage to, while at the same time offering up a sort of character-revealed, meta-reflexive insight that works against these clichés and turns them into moments of pure comedy.

Goddard and Whedon obviously came into this project with the intention of raising a giant middle finger to the declining horror genre, while simultaneously revitalizing it through a unique mish-mash of its various aspects. They succeeded terrifically. The Cabin in the Woods is equal parts scary, funny, and weird with a strongly knit, yet overly fast-paced narrative that keeps your attention sharp for its whole ninety-five minutes of run time. If you’re a huge fan of horror, you’ll have no problem picking out the multitudinous references that are scattered, both obviously and subtly, throughout the film. It definitely takes a bit of knowledge regarding the horror genre to appreciate everything they attempt to convey, which may be off-putting for some, but The Cabin in the Woods is undeniably a visual treat for anyone that enjoys a well-made and detailed parody.

Trust me, go see it before any of it gets ruined for you. You’ll be happy you did.

Score: 9.5 out of 10

Glassjaw to Celebrate the Ten Year Anniversary of “Worship & Tribute”

Glassjaw will be celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Worship & Tribute on July 8th with a show at Irving Plaza in New York City. Those lucky enough to be on the East Coast in July can pick up a commemorative ticket bundle, which features an exclusive hat and ticket, here. Better hurry, though – it’s limited to 93 and will not be reprinted!

Update: Well, that sold out fast.

Red Poppy Ale – The Lost Abbey

Red Poppy Ale is a Flanders Red Ale, 5% ABV.

Appearance: A gentle pour yields a large three-finger tan head. Head is very bubbly and fades away very quickly to a patchy layer. The beer itself is a dark red-brown that turns to an intense rose red when held to the light.

Smell: Dominated by tart cherries and oak. Sour yeast funkiness works perfectly with the sourness from the cherries.

Mouthfeel/Taste: Body is smooth but beer is highly carbonated. Feels very bubbly on the tongue. Wonderfully sour. Tartness is almost mouth-puckering and can be felt all over the tongue, especially the back. Sour cherries blend perfectly with the oakiness from the aging. Finish is dry and acidic.

Overall: Flanders Red Ales are quickly turning into one of my favorite styles of beer. This beer takes the sourness of the style to the next level. Granted, if sourness is unappealing to you, then this beer will not be your favorite. Everything about this beer is amazing – from bottle design to the last dregs in the glass. It’s not cheap at $16 a 375ml bottle, but completely worth it in my opinion. If you like sours, do yourself a favor and pick this beer up.

98 out of 100