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300: Film Review

I finally got around to seeing 300. This of course is the tale of 300 brave Spartans (and a few allies) who took on a giant Persian army in Greece ca. 450 B.C. O.K, the movie is a home-erotic beef fest, but I don’t have a problem with that. The film actually takes as its visual inspiration Frank Miller’s comic book telling of the tale. I enjoyed it so much more than the last film based on Miller’s work, “Sin City”, which I honestly thought was an execrable piece of filth. I super enjoyed seeing Gerard Butler running around mostly semi-naked in this film. And sincerely he was a terrific King Leonidas. I’m sure the real King Xerxes was not a 9-foot tall ambisexual having a snit, but one can’t question artistic license.

300 Gorgeous Bods

Grade: B+ for stunning CGI visuals and boffo male pulchritudinousness

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February 20, 2008 Posted by | Film | | Leave a comment

A Performance of Macbeth: Film Review

This was filmed in 1979 as a recreation of a successful theatrical production by the Royal Shakespeare Company ca. 1976-1977. It stars (Sir) Ian McKellen and (Dame) Judi Dench as the Macbeths. McKellen looks shockingly youthful for those used to seeing him as Gandalf in the Rings franchise. Check this out:

Ian McKellen and Judi Dench as MacBeths

This production has virtually no props and relies on Shakespeare’s words as delivered by the thespians. McKellen is brilliant, the supporting cast is too. Dench is good, especially in the sleepwalking scene… perhaps too maternal and nice-seeming to be the diabolical Lady M. This is a truly minimalist production. I loved it.

Grade: A for brilliant performances all-around

February 20, 2008 Posted by | Film | | 2 Comments

Wine Blogging Wednesday #42 – 7 Word Challenge

Wine Blogging Wednesday

This month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday theme is hosted by Spittoon. The task this month is to describe an Italian red wine in 7 words – no more, no less. This is sort of an easy challenge for someone like me whose tasting notes are pretty minimalist anyway. My choice for this assignment (which I choose to accept) is the La Corte Salice Salentino 2005. Cost: $10. This is 80-85% Negroamaro and 15-20% Malvasia Nera. It comes from a region in Italy (Puglia) on the ‘heel’ of the ‘boot’. I was seduced into buying this by an enthusiastic hand-written shelf-talker at Colonial Spirits. Here is a view of the bottle with my trusty watch-Hedgehog Prickles keeping a close eye on the situation:

La Corte Salice Salentino 2005

So… OK, a somewhat oaky nose w/dark fruits (mainly plums) and beets? On the palate, pretty acidic/sour, medium bodied, lighting up my bitterness taste buds, not terribly tannic, not fruit-forward enough for me. Like most Italian reds, screaming for Italian food pairing! Yes, better with cheese. Now for the 7 word summation:

Salice Salentino Is Too Bitter For Me

February 13, 2008 Posted by | Wine | , | 6 Comments

Boston Wine Expo

Here are a few words about my experiences at the 2-day Boston Wine Expo which was held at the World Trade Center in Boston this past weekend. This was my first time attending this since my intense interest in wine is a fairly recent development. The only way for me to attend the Expo was to volunteer my time for the event. In exchange for one day of volunteering, they gave me 2 “Grand Tasting” tickets for the other day. So Saturday I attended, and Sunday I volunteered.

Saturday

It took about an hour and 45 minutes for my friend Adrian H. and I to get into Boston from out here in Groton, MA. We initially tried to get into the Expo on the end opposite of the actual entrance – but this was a blessing in disguise as I found where the office was where I needed to collect our tickets. So we figured out the proper entrance, got our glassware, and entered the humongous Grand Tasting area.

This stadium-sized floor plan was divided into approximately 8 rows of wine vendors and 1 row of ‘Lifestyle’ product or service providers. We had a complete list of vendors so I tried to tick off the ones of particular interest. Since I’m a newbie, I really only noted about 10 producers. But of course by far the most *ridonculously* interesting attraction to me was the Wine Library tables located in row 800 starring the very addictive and energetic and over-the-top host Gary Vaynerchuk (see WLTV link on this page).

So, the thing is, that most of the wine being proffered is not necessarily anything of any special interest to the wine aficianado. This event is more of a gigantic party. The (audible) volume on the floor starts at a low bustling hum and ends at the end of the afternoon in a semi-deafening roar. The vendors of special interest have rather huge crowds in front… if you don’t feel like waiting and pushing through those, you will tend to quickly sate yourself with stuff where no line is there to fight. Here we are.

Adrian & Sharon at Boston Wine Expo

The tendency for first-timers is to drink too much of the readily available stuff, and we did. However, there were a couple of standouts that I noted, as follows, with my extremely abbreviated tasting notes:

Michael-David Petite Petit Sirah 2005

Smashing Petite Sirah & Petit Verdot blend with knockout nose and smashing lingering finish. Yumitude.

Michael-David Petite Petit Sirah 2005

Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay 2006

I remembered that this was top-rated in Wine Spectator, and this did not disappoint. Remarkably complex and pleasing in the mid-palate for an inexpensive CA Chardonnay, with no evidence of over oaking. Bravo.

Chateau St. Jean Chard 2006

Mionetto Sergio Prosecco NV

All the Mionetto Prosecco offerings were outrageously tasty, and this particular extra-dry sparkler added some other local grape varieties to the mix (30%) for maximal interest.

Mionetto Sergio Prosecco

WE MET GARY VAYNERCHUK

The 32-year old host of Wine Library TV was very sweet, attentive, and polite to us. And I have to say he’s even cuter in person than on his taped show (tv.winelibrary.com). He’s obviously very sharp. He’s serious about buying the New York Jets, and I definitely wouldn’t put it past him. We met his wife Lizzie briefly, and saw his Dad Sasha talking on his cell rather excitedly. Also little bro AJ was around, just having turned 21. Saturday it was surprisingly easy to speak with him (I expected to fight through a mob of Vayniacs). Sunday I saw him briefly too and there was a much larger mob of fans about, and I was nervous as I had no Dutch Courage to help me with my shyness problem.

WE MET RICHARD STALLMAN

On the ride home on the T to Alewife, where we parked, we were sitting next to a wild-haired gentleman typing emails on this laptop. Accompanied by 2 young fans/acolytes, he started talking to us about the non-necessity of constantly being hooked into the Internet. Adrian joked – who are you, Stallman? He admitted that, well, yeah, he was. We were shocked as all getout and rather thrilled to be chatting with the legendary Free Software Foundation guru/People’s republic of Cambridge lefty. In fact, in one of my IT positions, I used GNU tools extensively. He seemed pretty happy and was friendly with us.

Sunday

Sunday morning I wasn’t feeling all that wonderful (surprise!) but needed to get into Boston for my volunteer shift 11-4. So pretty much I was taking Advil all day until the late afternoon. It somehow only took me an hour and 15 minutes to get into Boston this time. I had 3 shifts on Sunday taking tickets at Expo-hosted seminars. This was great. This particular volunteer task is wonderful as usually you get to participate in the seminar when there are no-shows, which there usually are.

The first seminar was Champagne and Artisan Cheese Pairings. There was a completely full house for this one, and we had to turn away Press people, who apparently always try to crash the seminars (and are usually successful). The second seminar was my fave – Zinfandel Madness. Here there were quite a number of no-shows, so both of us ticket-taking volunteers got to participate in the tasting. The Four Vines guru Christian Tietje presented four of his Four Vines Zinfandel offerings including the outrageous “Sophisticate” and the luscious “Maverick”.

Four Vines Zinfandel “Sophisticate”Sonoma 2005

This had the most outrageous nose I’ve ever experienced in my wine newbie life. I could have kept my considerable shnoz in the glass all day. Basically, a fruit and spice blockbuster with lots of jammy goodness and a considerable finish. If this is a New World Fruit Bomb, then I LIKE IT!

Four Vines Zinfandel Sophisticate 2005

The third and last seminar for me was Pinor Noirs of the World. Again, quite a few no-shows at the end of the afternoon, so I got to participate. There were so many no-shows that I just let a couple of the Press crash it. There were 8 wonderful Pinots there with an expert panel presenting.

Archery Summit Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2006

This was my fave… sour cherries, some smoky oak & bit more fuller-bodied and structured than the others.
Archery Summit Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2006

Conclusion

Next year, I’ll definitely volunteer again, and if I attend the Grand Tasting again, will avoid the expediently available plonk and just taste what I have a reasonably good feeling will be worthy of my attention.

February 11, 2008 Posted by | Wine | , , | 4 Comments

The Black Dahlia – Film Review

Black Dahlia DVD

“The Black Dahlia” is film director Brian De Palma’s interpretation of James Ellroy’s book of the same name. The story is partly based on the facts of the case – Elizabeth Short’s horrific murder in one of the seedier sections of LA in 1947. The resolution is from Ellroy’s imagination. Ellroy was partially inspired and motivated to tell Elizabeth Short’s story because of the murder of his own mother when he was a boy … Ellroy’s “My Dark Places” is a non-fictional account for his search for her murderer(s). I’ve read this and it’s riveting with a hard-boiled novelist kind of approach.

Back to the movie… despite being generally panned by the critics and in imdb user reviews, I found the film watchable and interesting. The principals are all solid and believable. The problem here is De Palma’s rather flat, detached, and sepia-toned visuals. Also… one goes to see a De Palma movie expecting some ridiculously stylish and over-the-top visuals & plot elements (see “Dressed to Kill”, “Scarface”, “Body Double”)… but the approach here is rather plodding, staid, and as I said, detached.

I grade the movie B for achieving basic competence and holding my attention for 2 hours.

February 7, 2008 Posted by | Film | | Leave a comment