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Monthly Archives: April 2012

For those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter, I conducted a little experiment earlier today. I made some Earl Grey Tea, and then put espresso in it. Here is the record of that experiment:

 

 

 

Alright, here we go: The Earlspresso Grey Experiment of 2012. Mark your future history books folks!

 

Question: Will Earl Grey Tea taste good if you add Espresso to it?

 

Hypotheses: 1) Yes it fucking will – Me 2) No it fucking won’t – Sam

 

Method: 1) Start water boiling 2) Start Espresso Brewing 3) Mix hot water and Tea Bag 4) Hope timing is good to put the Espresso In

 

Step 1 Initiated at 12:01 PM MST, Step 2 delayed by fact that Espresso machine is held in an inconvenient place upon the counter

 

Step 2 further delayed by fact that Experimenter has no idea how to Tamp on his home espresso machine; Cocktail Shaker used as stopgap

 

Step 1 Complete; Step 2 Properly Initiated at 12:07 PM MST; Step 3 (Pouring hot water over tea bag) Initiated after Mug Deliberation @ 12:09

 

12:11 PM MST: Problems with espresso machine encountered WHY IS THERE WATER COMING OUT OF ITS EVERY ORIFICE

 

12:13 PM Tea is done steeping; Espresso Machine is being weirder, but has stopped spewing water everywhere

 

12:15 PM MST: More Espresso than i had meant to make has been made. I forgot to empty it of water after steaming milk some days ago….

 

Forgotten Note: 12:13 PM Earl Grey came out tasty.

 

12:17 PM: Espresso finished brewing. Is passable. Is weak and Bitter, but passable.

 

12:18 PM MST: Espresso and Earl Grey finally mixed. No catastrophic results. Stirred with stainless steel tablespoon.

 

12:19 PM MST: Experimenter prepares to attempt first sip of this strange brew

 

12:19 PM MST: Odor of Strange Brew is delightful; Bergamot and Espresso would be good mix for perfume

 

12:20 PM MST: Earlspresso Grey tastes like…. Well just like if you mixed espresso and earl grey. Bitter aftertaste of burnt bergamot.

 

12:22 PM MST third sip sparks strange awareness of body

 

12:23 PM MST: Continued experiment delayed by laundry being done in the dryer, Scientist will BRB

 

12:25 PM: Scientist hears dull roar coming from outside on his way to the laundry room

 

12:28 PM MST Subject feels motion of air without a breeze; shows signs of fear of the North and dissociation of self with self

 

12:29 PM MST “Hey, this is actually delicious. What if we infused coffee with Salvia Dinorum?”

 

12:30 PM MST Subject experiences burning in belly, Goes down to Miami Kill Roosevelt!

 

((Subject responds to query about the flavor)) I think if I had made the espresso better, let the tea steep a little longer, and used fresher beans, it would be v. tasty!

 

12:30 PM MST: Subject receives DM from self, warning of “they are coming they are coming they are coming.” Subject deletes DM

 

12:32 PM MST: Subject suspects he can fly. Scientist shuts balcony door.

 

12:34 PM MST Strange Brew is half gone. Subject suspects the flow of time has slowed around him. Asks whether scientist can make more.

 

12:36 PM MST scientist rejoins self as subject, decides not to make more just this minute, to disappointment of all 3

 

12:37 PM MST Subject/Scientist/Self recognizes that the Earlspresso Grey has turned him into a Trinity, begins founding new religion

 

12:38 PM MST Subject wants to scrub the left side of his tongue because oh my GOD it is carrying an awful flavor right now ugh

 

12:39 PM MST Subject sees the holes in the sky, sends self DM warning “they are coming they are coming they are coming”

 

12:41 PM MST With only two sips of concoction to go, Subject has neither phased ENTIRELY out of reality nor vomited.

 

12:44 PM MST Subject feels dizzy, as if left brain and right brain are slightly out of tmpemroal cnys

 

sksa tcejbus, lasrever “I ma ohw ? ” emit fo stceffe eht gnicneirepxe TSM MP 64:21

 

12:47 PM MST: Subject downs final/first sip of foul noitop and snaps otni normal state of disreality, only occasionally gnivom backwards

 

12:49 PM MST with the Earlspresso yerG fully absorbgni into his system, tcejbus must depart for the bank

 

1:01 pm mst, subject discovers he has been punching everyone on the way to the bank, stops for a bagel

 

1:04 pm mst, subject realizes that he has punched nothing but his own demons, enjoys bagel

 

1:09 pm mst, subject wonders why bagel is punching him, recognizes it as a talking hot dog and one of his demons

 

1:13 pm mst subject enters bank struggling with bagel, wonders why his teller is hieronymous bosch

 

3:33 pm mst subject insists that there is no escape

 

2:27 pm mst worms, oh my god, worms

 

1:25 pm mst subject ceases remembering the future, dr. Memory, wonders where bagel went

 

1:21 pm mst subject remembers the future, gives bagel to Uhclem

 

 

1:33 PM MST subject discovers missed connection on craigslist from the end of time, stamped “4:00 PM MST today”, flags it as spam

 

1:38 PM Subject feels the foul concoction leaving his system, discovers that he still has bagel, which is not a demon or a hot dog, whew

 

Conclusion: NEVER AGAIN. Or, rather, maybe tomorrow.

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                Shortly after I made the recently mentioned decision to read every book that I could get my hands on for less than $2, I went on a shopping spree with a good friend of mine. She was specifically looking for some classic fantasy stuff – Conan and Elric, in particular. We went to every used bookstore in town, and I just looked around while she dug deep. I grabbed books I knew to be by writers who I didn’t like but did enjoy – Andre Norton being the prime example – and lifted the cover to check the current price. $2, take, $1, take, $8, put back on the shelf.

 

                Partway through this process, I saw a book with a title intriguing enough that I had to pull it off the shelf. The back cover had it in my “buy” pile before I had even looked at the penciled in price. The book was guaranteed to be so ridiculous that, whether it was awful or not, whether it was expensive of cheap, I absolutely had to own and read it.

 

                This book was Heroes in Hell.

 

                Heroes in Hell is set in a version of the Christian underworld which is essentially the real world, but infinitely worse; where the dead of all time periods come at completely unpredictable relative times, with seemingly infinite ways and opportunities to die, but few (or none) of them permanent. The plot Heroes in Hell vaguely traces a revolution against Satan led by Che Guevara, who, by Satan’s estimation, seems to get off on failed revolutions. In the process of telling this story, the novel explores this Hell and the politics of its denizens. Caesar is a leader of the damned, living a relatively comfortable life with Hatshepsut, Cleopatra, Dante, and Machiavelli. Dante claims to be trying to recreate his Divine Comedy, so that he can find out what he wrote that got him damned. Ernest Hemmingway is a heavy drinker who loves to fight – as ever. Napoleon is living in an approximation of Suburbia, closely studying the laws of Hell to find a loophole out, when he is forced to take his new neighbor The Duke of Wellington into his home. That Napoleon/Wellington story is probably the high point of this volume, as a highly surreal rendition of The Odd Couple. In Hell.

 

                And here’s the thing. All of this absurdity is really well written. The book, despite its ridiculous, befuddling concept, manages to take itself seriously, without taking itself too seriously. The prose is solid, the dialogue believable; nothing is ever too heavy handed, and the world of its Hell is clearly terrible, an intolerable place, but not in a traditional Boschian way. I don’t want to spoil too much of the story for you; Machiavelli’s role is brilliant, but much of the brilliance lies in reading how it develops.

 

                Read this book. You will probably be able to find it for around 2 dollars anyway.  It’s the first in a series, and I intend to go find out the rest of them soon.

I’m sure that many of you hate Will Ferrell. This is an opinion that, while I do not share, I respect. Historically, his comedy has been loud, boorish, and idiotic. Stranger Than Fiction proved that he can play other roles; the humor in that movie was dark and off-beat,  with some traditional rom-com aspects and none of his usual wide-eyed shouting and self-importance humor. Did he shout something quotable about glass cases of emotion, or Santa, in that movie? Not to my recollection.   Casa de Mi Padre is does not quite reach the same heights of maturity as Stranger than Fiction, but it does not go all the way back to Ferrell’s iconic shouting idiocy. The movie is certainly wacky, but it avoids the dubious distinction of “screwball”.

In essence, Casa de Mi Padre is a spoof of Mexican soap operas. But it seems more to be drawn from traditional spoofs of Mexican soap operas than from the soaps themselves. This is not necessarily a bad thing; it makes the film accessible to an audience who does not really watch those telenovellas. The plot is intentionally over-simplistic and semi-coherent. Will Ferrell plays Armando Alvarez, a man who stands to inherit his father’s ranch – the titular Casa. He is, however, kind of stupid. Not in an overbearing way like Ferrell so often is; He is no Ron Burgundy or Buddy The Elf. He is simply not that bright; the classic simple farmhand with a Will Ferrell flair.  The absolute high point of the movie is the song that he and his friends, whose names I never caught, sing about it, “Yo No Se”. The song is about how little they know, with a chorus consisting of the line delightfully translated as “for I am a simple ranchero”.

Armando’s brother, the beloved prodigal son, comes home, involved in the drug business, with a fiancée who immediately falls in love with Armando. The plot goes from there, intentionally and inherently predictable. The characters are all lifted straight out of The Archetype Directory, because that is the point. The Simple Ranchero; the Drug Mogul who loves his family; The Wilting Beauty With A Dark Past; The Father Who Loves The Prodigal Son; The Needlessly Evil Villains. These tropes are well executed, well integrated, and serve as they should: to give the gags a context.

The purpose and hook of the movie are not the plot or characters: the movie is a delivery method for gags. And what gags! The Cigarette Bits which flow throughout the movie are the best. I do not want to spoil any of them, because describing them would robt hem of their strength. Armando’s consistent and mostly unremarked failure to roll a cigarette is the simplest and longest running of the gags. The dialogue about selling drugs to Americans which culminates in calling Americans “shit-eating crazy monster babies” is possibly the hardest I have laughed in a movie theatre in a long while, though I haven’t been to many movies in a long while.

While I am one of these wretches who does consistently like Will Ferrell – to my great shame, I even enjoyed Blades of Glory, though Will Arnett and Amy Poehler were what carried the flick – I do not think that this biased why I and my movie-going companion laughed throughout the entire movie. It was the writing and the gags – sight gags, plot gags, and filmic gags –  which carry the movie. Will Ferrell is simply the ideal vessel for these gags, with his ability to be understatedly overstated. The subtleties of the film are its greatest strengths; Mannequins appear in lieu of actual characters at completely random intervals, with no attention called to this fact. Sets vary wildly and inconsistently between shot-on-location and shot-in-front-of-matte-paintings-or-green-screens.

Don’t see it if you dislike gratuitous, obviously fake violence. The blood is almost clear and obviously fake, but it is abundant. Seriously, just – just go give this movie your money. Er, well, go ahead and wait for the DVD or Blu-Ray or the Netflix Instant Streaming. It’s not really important to see it on the big screen.

Also I should warn you that there is an extended scene where we see Will Ferrell’s ass. It is a better ass than I would have expected, but it is still not especially not Will Ferrell’s ass. The scene is a (beginning-of) sex scene between Ferrell and Genesis Rodriguez, who I do not mind telling you I did enjoy seeing the ass of. This is also the funniest sex scene in a movie since the Puppet Sex in Team America: World Police.