Another edition of Tasting Notes, a series of quick hits on a variety of topics that don’t really warrant a full post [Previous Editions: part 1 | part 2]. So here’s what I’ve been watching/playing/reading/drinking lately:
- The Walking Dead has been an agreeable series so far, though I do have one major issue with it. Indeed, it’s one of the things that always bothers me about zombie movies. In short, nothing of import actually happens, and this series is a good example. It starts out promisingly enough, with the sheriff waking in a hospital (a la 28 Days Later…) and setting out on a mission to find his family during the zombie apocalypse. But then he finds them in, like, the second episode, leaving no real purpose to the series. Everyone is so reactive, and that’s where all the tension comes from. That’s fine for what it is, and each episode seems pretty well constructed, but the focus is more on characters rather than any sort of story. What’s more, I don’t really see an overarching story emerging since zombies are uniformly boring antagonists and the notion that “humans are the real monsters” is just as lame if not even more boring. The show is entertaining enough, but I’m not really in the “Best New Show!” camp just yet either (then again, of the “new” shows, it’s the only one I’m really watching, so maybe I should be in that camp…)
- Courtesy of WatchTrek.com, I’ve been revisiting some of my favorite Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes. Not sure how long this site will be up (it certainly doesn’t seem official), but it’s pretty damn cool. Favorite revisited episode: Peak Performance.
- I’ve started Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and it’s quite good! If you’ve played the first game, you pretty much know what you’re in for, but it’s still a lot of fun. The biggest observation I have about the game is a more general one about how sequels always need to strip you of all your abilities and weapons, then gradually give them back. The God of War games are the worst in this respect (I mean, really? Kratos forgot how to spin around with his blades of whatever?), but Uncharted has that too – you start the game without any weapon, then a dart gun, then a pistol, gradually working back up to the more powerful guns. Of course, that’s only about the first hour, but still. I hate that. It’s a big part of why I never got into GTA IV either – lame cars, lame weapons, etc… start the game, which is boring. I’ve already played the same game like 5 times before, why do I need to keep going through the paces?
- Now that the hockey season is in full swing, NHL 10 has entered the playing rotation again. It’s amazing that something so repetitive can continually keep my interest, but there you have it.
- Has anyone played the new Goldeneye for the Wii? Is it worth picking up? I’m hearing good things, but I’m almost always disappointed by games for the Wii these days…
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is fine, I guess, but like the past couple of films in the series, I can’t really shake the feeling of filmmakers simply going through the motions (minor spoilers for the rest of the paragraph). I understand that there’s a certain difficulty in adapting such beloved source material, but I think the final book could probably have used some liberal editing when being translated to the screen. Do we really need to portray all 7 horcruxes in the movies? Do we really need to break the last book into two movies? Indeed, I think that’s the biggest problem with this movie, which is that it’s incomplete. They chose a decent place to end the first part, I guess. There’s a meaningful death… but then, the really strange thing is that the death that happens in this movie is probably given more attention and fanfare as Dumbledore in the previous film. And while I always liked the character who died and was sad to see him go, I don’t think he needed quite so heroic a sendoff. In any case, there were plenty of things to like about the movie – it’s quite beautifully shot, there’s a great animated sequence in the film, and for the section of the film intended to be all about character building, there are a few decent action sequences (there is, for instance, a nifty “shootout” in a coffee shop that I rather enjoyed). I’m looking forward to the last film, but then, I still think the fourth film is probably the most fun…
- The Quentin Tarantino and Edgar Wright commentary track on Hot Fuzz is amazing and worth the price of the BD alone. (Update: Ohhh, there’s a page that neatly collects all the films referenced in the commentary – 190 in total, which is pretty astounding.)
- Currently reading Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It’s great, and it reminds me that I need to revisit that (planned) series of posts that touches on this subject…
- My recent beer brewing adventures were preceded by some books on the subject, notably How to Brew by John Palmer (also available online for free) and The Complete Joy of Homebrewing Third Edition by Charles Papazian. They’re both pretty good, though I’d probably recommend the Palmer book for those just getting started (as I was). Papazian’s book is good too, though I have to admit that his frequent advice to “relax… don’t worry… and have a homebrew” is really annoying for the first timer (as, you know, I don’t have any homebrew yet, and why don’t you just rub it in some more!?) I think he might address that situation once, claiming that bottled beer is ok for the first timer, but it’s still annoying. Anyway, while the beginner’s section could use some work, the rest of the book is rather interesting (though I have yet to read the final sections on Advanced All Grain brewing) and there’s lots of detailed information and recipes and whatnot (I think my next beer will be based on his recipe for a Belgian-style Tripel – page 191).
The Finer Things
- Lots of beer lately, but I’m getting started on the Holiday Seasonals. Checkout my thoughts on Anchor’s yearly Special Christmas Ale and Rogue’s Santa’s Private Reserve on the Kaedrin Beer Blog.
- I know nothing about cigars, but in hunting down some gifts for the holidays, I got a few Cusano cigars and greatly enjoyed the Cusano 18 Double Connecticut Robusto. Whatever that means.
And that about wraps up this edition of tasting notes!