Vegetarian Month

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Vegetarian Month made me so weak I wasn't able to post to the blog. OK, it wasn't really that bad...I've just been busy, and still catching up on Disney Month posts, and...solar flairs. So to sum of this latest OpMo month of fun Stephanie and I didn't eat meat for the entire month of June, except for one little slip up. It was a challenging month, but not without rewards and new discoveries.

Vegetarian Month wasn't too bad when we ate at home. We were able to stock up non-meat foods we enjoy and some fake meat products to substitute. The more challenging part was eating at restaurants, events, and meals at other peoples' houses. The worst was a wedding we attended. They had some delicious looking steak and chicken, but the non-meat offerings were a little slim. I'm not crazy about Caesar salad so I didn't get much to eat. Some restaurants are nearly impossible to eat vegetarian at, although we mostly managed to avoid those.

The positive side of this was that it forced us to try some new food that we wouldn't have otherwise tried. I didn't find any fake meat I liked but I had some great vegetable, pasta, and fruit dishes. We learned that marinated mozzarella makes any pasta better and that even though I still don't like bell peppers enough to eat one on its own I now accept that they have their place in adding flavor to a dish. On the fake meat front it ranged from terrible to edible. The best was the rice burgers we picked up at S&S, and the worst was the boca burgers. There isn't enough BBQ sauce in the world to cover the wet sock flavor of a boca burger. Tofu is edible, but even if its cooked well I prefer chicken.

The other big benefit to Vegetarian Month has been the fantastic BMs. I think that's why vegetarians always seem happy. Now if only they weren't so smug. I didn't notice any other health changes. I didn't lose or gain any weight and my energy level was about the same.

Now that Vegetarian Month is over we'll return to eating meat, but we'll be having meals without meat much more often than before. Tonight Stephanie and I are going on a meat date to celebrate the end of Vegetarian Month. I'll be eating the largest steak that Sierra Nevada makes and loving every bite.

Homicidal Maniac Ravages Innocent Clam Family

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It a horrific display of carnivorous zeal a woman devoured an entire family of clams at a Red Lobster restaurant in Chico California. Witnesses at the scene of the crime were shocked at the brutality of the woman as she ate what she reportedly dubbed "clam chowder." The alleged crime involved chopping up a Daddy clam, a Mommy clam, a little boy clam, and a baby girl clam into small pieces. The remains of the victims were then dunked into scalding hot liquids before being eaten.

"There was a lot of snorting and squealing and she had a crazed look in her eye, kinda like that Charles Manson guy," described a Red Lobster employee. Authorities have asked that anyone fitting the description of the alleged killer be immediately reported. They warned that the suspect is likely armed with a butcher knife and soup spoon and could be very dangerous. "Do not approach her, we don't know who she will lash out at next. Just keep a safe distance and call 911," cautioned Police Chief Maloney.

Disneyland!

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Without a doubt the highlight of Disney Month was a trip to Disneyland. Stephanie and I had a lot of fun with with my parents and Jen & Karen. We had a three day pass for Disneyland and the new-to-me California Adventures with a day of travel on each end. Even with three full days in the parks we didn't come close to getting to everything, but we hit most of the big stuff. Unlike Stephanie I've been to Disneyland a few times before, but we found some stuff that I hadn't experienced on previous visits.

Day one was spent in Disneyland and we made it to a bunch of the classic rides: Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, The Haunted Mansion, The Matterhorn, Space Mountain, Captain EO, and Star Tours. Pirates is the same old fun ride with the addition of a few Jack Sparrows. The addition of Jack didn't hurt the ride, although I couldn't work out why pirates were trying to capture him from the Spaniards in the big scene with the pirate ship and fortress. Indiana Jones was the big new ride last time I was in Disneyland and it is still really great. Haunted Mansion and Matterhorn were just as I remembered and as fun as always. Space Mountain is still awesome. The darkness and simulated star scape add a lot to this roller coaster and makes it one of my favorite rides at any amusement park. Captain EO is the original 3-D film that they brought back to make a buck off Michael Jackson's death with the addition of some 4-D effects that were added to the theater for Honey I Shrunk the Audience. The 4-D effects mostly consisted of the seats bouncing around to the music. I found the bouncing annoying and didn't think it added much to the show. Captain EO is definitely showing its age, but I couldn't help feel some nostalgia and almost bought a shirt on the way out. Star Tours is scheduled for a renovation and I'm glad I got to ride the original one more time. It was great hit all these rides in one morning with the short lines afforded by the off season and some cloudy weather. The lines were so short there wasn't much need for Fast Pass, which is new since my last visit.

Downtown Disney is also new to me. It's a series of stores and restaurants sandwiched between the parks and the Disney hotels. They must have decided that the parks were commercialized enough so they had to come up with a place to separate visitors from their remaining money. It was convenient to have someplace so close by with nice long hours, even if everything was overpriced and didn't quite have the Disney magic that Disneyland does.

Speaking of lost magic, we spent part of days two and three in California Adventures. There are some world-class rides like Soarin' Over California, Tower of Terror, and California Screamin' but there was a distinct lack of the Disney magic that is liberally spread about Disneyland proper. I really didn't enjoy the whole Paradise Pier section of California Adventures. They've tried to recreate the classic beach boardwalk feel of places like Santa Cruz. Maybe its because I've lived my whole life in California but if I want beach boardwalk I'll go to a real beach boardwalk. The carnival style rides in this section just made me nauseous.

I appreciate the variety of Downtown Disney and California Adventures and I really appreciate the booze (Disneyland proper is totally dry), but the whole time I was in either location I just wanted to run back to Disneyland. I feel like I should be concerned that I've turned into such a sentimental turd that I would pass up the thrills of a great roller coaster in favor of strolling down Main Street Disneyland, but I think I'm OK with it.

On day two we had dinner at Blue Bayou, the restaurant inside Pirates of the Caribbean. The dark atmosphere was exactly how I imagine an evening in New Orleans. Granted, this vision is mostly based on depictions from movies and purposely ignores hurricanes and oil spills (fuck you BP). The food and service were good, and the long meal provided some needed relaxation. I would recommend Blue Bayou, but be sure make reservations; they were turning people away even though the park wasn't very busy.

Day three brought some sunshine and larger but not unmanageable crowds. After getting Stephanie her Disney Princess photo-op fix we rode Grizzly River Run in California Adventures. Then we headed back to Disneyland to ride Indiana Jones a couple more times and go on a couple of the rides we missed like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the obligatory It's a Small World.

Even though we spent about twelve hours a day for three days in the two parks, and even though Splash Mountain was closed and none of evening shows like Fantasmic or the new World of Color were running we didn't manage to get to everything available. We realized this on the third day but I think we were all content with the trip, and we had a great time experiencing Disneyland together.

Mission 3: Vegetarian - Day 3

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As usual my first meal of the day was lunch. I don't know why I have this aversion to eating breakfast. I love breakfast food. I eat breakfast on the weekends. I think maybe it's the fact that I would rather sleep in than eat breakfast. I would rather sleep in than do most things in the morning, especially during the work week.

We had lunch at Uppercrust Bakery. This place is amazing. Our wedding cakes were made there. Most of my friends have had their wedding cakes made there, come to think of it. Anyway, they have a great lunch menu and a huge selection of salads to go along side your meal. I had the grilled cheese and a french herb potato salad. This was no ordinary grilled cheese, just thinking about it makes me hungry again. This was two thick slabs of focaccia with lots of cheese between them. What makes this grilled cheese special is the cheese crust. Prior to grilling the focaccia is coated in chevre cheese, it turns into a delicious cheese crust completely surrounding the sandwich! AMAZING! The potato salad was delicious, although the potatoes were cut so large it was a little difficult to maneuver in the small bowl. I could probably eat that lunch everyday. It was delicious. But as with most things, I paid a price for the deliciousness. Well my wallet did anyway. Uppercrust, like most downtown restaurants, is expensive. Tasty, but expensive. I would say it is worth the splurge.

Dinner was, as it usually is during the week, a rush. I was tired and stressed so I talked Keith into taking me to El Patron. El Patron is a favorite of mine. Their carnitas are out of this world. All of their food is really good actually. I had a bean, rice and cheese burrito. It was more than enough food to feed me. My only wish was that I would have chosen black beans. I didn't make any choice at all, I just ordered and re-fried was the default. I prefer whole beans in my food in general. I am not a huge fan of re-fried beans. Especially not from a can. If I am going to eat them I want them freshly made by someones abuelita, and full of lard. That is the only acceptable way. Even though I forgot to specify I was still happy with my meal. The chips and salsa and nacho cheese made things nice too. My customary side of sour cream was big help as well. I love sour cream. I think it might be my favorite condiment. I put it on almost everything.

Mission 3: Vegetarian - Day 2

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Day two of vegetarian month went pretty well. My meat cravings are still at a level six. They started out at a level six so I would say that's a positive. I still think about bacon a lot.

I almost never eat breakfast so my first meal of the day is lunch. We went to Johnnies for lunch. Johnnies is the restaurant in the Hotel Diamond in downtown Chico. It looks pretty ritzy and unlike most Chico restaurants I wouldn't wear my pajama pants there, but the prices are good. They are good for lunch anyway. They have "mini combos", half servings of most of their meals with a salad or cup of soup for $6.95. This is a great deal, especially downtown. I always get the minis, they end up being more food than the full size meals for less money. I had the mac and cheese and a caesar salad . Both were delicious. Johnnies has a decent variety for vegetarians. They have tempura asparagus that is amazing. The only problem with Johnnies is the inconsistency. The service fluctuates between super fast and too slow to eat during your lunch break. The food, while usually delicious is always different depending on the cook. This keeps Keith and I from going there as much as we might, considering the price.

I had a dinner meeting with the always lovely Jerry Miller. He took me to Kwando, a Chinese Buffet. The buffet is pretty good, but their sushi is really, really good. I wouldn't know because I can't eat meat, and aside from my vow of meat abstinence I am not crazy about sushi. There wasn't much of a selection for the non-meat eater. They have a very limited salad bar, and a handful of vegetable only dishes as well as a couple vegetable soups. I had salad, tasty, garlicky green beans and hot and sour soup. I got enough to eat, although I was wishing for more variety.

I was starving after rehearsals so when Keith picked me up I had him take me to Wendy's. I love Wendy's. They have the best fries and they also have baked potatoes! I got a sour cream and chive baked potato. It was delicious.

Mission 3: Vegetarian - Day 1

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I love vegetables. I always have. When I was really young and other children stole little candies from the bulk bins at the store I was grabbing mushrooms and broccoli. No joke. Ask my mother if you ever have the chance to meet her. I was a goofy kid.

June is vegetarian month. Day one wasn't too bad. I really want a steak though. I think the anticipation of not having steak or fish or ribs has intensified the craving. Yesterday, all I wanted to eat was a Basque Norte marinaded steak. There is some in my freezer right now, but it will have to wait until July! I only hope I don't make myself sick binging on meat in July.

I had miso soup with Isreali couscous and tofu with a side of brown rice for lunch at T Bar. T Bar, formerly know as Teaz Me has good vegetarian selections. I love their food and their tea. My only complaint is that the food is a little expensive for what it is. I had the miso soup which is 4.99 I believe, and Keith had a fusion bowl with tofu that was 8.95. I wouldn't complain about the price except the fact that there were only three smallish strips of tofu. It was very tasty though and the prices weren't so high that I would stop going there. I actually go there about five times a week. Sometimes multiple times a day. That is how much I like T Bar. It is my Cheers, where everybody knows my name(and my order!).


I was stoked to discover that the meal I had choosen for dinner was very easy and very quick to make. I was starving by the time I got home from the store with Keith and Sam. I made wheat pasta shells with asparagus, peas, spinach, garlic and marinated mozzarella. It took about 15 minutes start to finish. I used garlic olive oil instead of regular and that gave it a lighter flavor. I really liked it. The recipe called for mint and feta, but I am not crazy about mint and I wanted something with a little more texture so I went with the marinated mozz instead. my only regret with the mozz is that I put it in too soon and it melted. It was still super tasty but the pretty cubes were turned into blobs.

I am currently working on a new show, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Rehearsals are at 6:30 in the evening and that puts a serious time constraint on what I can cook. Good thing vegetarian food cooks quickly, for the most part. I was starving when I got home though. Oh man! I was hungry all day as a matter of fact. I made a boca burger in a skillet with garlic olive oil and toped it with cheddar cheese. It was pretty good. I had never eaten a Boca burger before. It tasted somewhat like a breaded chicken patty. The texture was pretty good too. I think I'll have another.

Mission 3 - Vegetarian

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Mission number three is Vegetarian. Operatives Keith and Stephanie will eat only vegetarian meals for the entire month of June. This includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, lunner, brunch, fourth meal and all snacks. They must not consume any meat. This will be a particularly difficult month. Can Operatives Keith and Stephanie resist the siren call of bacon for an entire month? Will Stephanie become cranky and sullen from meat withdrawl? Will Operatives Keith and Stephanie end up healthier than when they started? All will be revealed as vegetarian month progresses.

Mission 2: Disney - Wrap up

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Disney month was quite a challenge, for a lot of reasons. I really love Disney and have since I was a child. I think that my love for Disney at this point is two parts quality and three parts nostalgia at this point in my life. I will still watch the movies while I am cleaning or cooking and I will still feel the same glee when I hear a Disney song.

Most of the challenge for me with this month was finding time to watch Disney. May was a very busy month, much busier than I had expected. After having found the time to watch something I certainly didn't have time to write about it. I found that very stressful. I was constantly thinking about how far behind I was in posting. I still am way behind in posting. I enjoy the blog and am having a great time, but this month was the first month I felt stressed out about it.

Keith and I wrapped up Disney month with the Princess and the Frog. I really liked this one. I liked that it was heavier on story than recent Disney fare. I loved the music. I wasn't crazy about the alternate animation montages during some of the songs. They were distracting. I did get a little teary when Ray the firefly got smashed and died, ascending to heaven to be with his Evangeline. That was a nice moment. My biggest gripe was that the story of the Shadow man and his deal with his "friends on the other side" was lacking. I thought that was the biggest whole in the story. I really did like this one and will probably end up buying it at some point.

Disney has changed so much since I was a kid. The Disney Channel is awful. The writing in most of the shows that we watched is so condescending and devoid of real humor. I think it is unfortunate when cartoons have better writing and acting than live shows. I really enjoyed the cartoon Phineas and Ferb, I thought the writing was great and it made science and math seem fun and a little mischievous. Perfect for suckering young kids to study those hated subjects.

Disneyland was all I could have dreamed. I had a glorious time and I can't wait to go back. Did you know that you can not put just anything on your mouse ears? Disney Corp. won't let you put nicknames or even fake sounding names on your mouse ears. I bought my Grandma Biddy some ears and wanted her name on them. Her really name is Vivian but everyone calls her Grandma Biddy. I didn't even know her real name until I was 13. No joke. but they wouldn't let me put Biddy on the ears. Proper names only. LAME. Other than Disney's stupid and annoying ear policy, and way over inflated food and drink prices, Disneyland is the happiest place on Earth.

That wraps Disney month! On to Vegetarian month.

Disney Month Catch Up take 2

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Aristocats, not to be confused with Aristocrats, is an animated feature about a crazy cat lady, and her helpful butler. The kittens in the movie were cute, the jazzy music was fun, and the story had a nice pace. Unfortunately in the end the old lady doesn't receive the mental health treatment she needs and the butler loses his job and is deported.

Next up was Darby O'Gill and the Little People, a live action movie that was one of Sean Connery's first. This movie had an entertaining story and surprisingly good special effects for 1959. It chronicles Darby O'Gill's quest for riches which ends with him realizing he already had everything he needs.

The next few days brought us some animated shorts. First up, Trick or Treat, was about Donald Duck and his nephews who ask the classic question: trick or treat? Donald answers incorrectly and his nephews seek revenge by teaming up with a witch. The witch enchants various household items that harass Donald. Stephanie loves anything Halloween related since it's her birthday, but I didn't find this one to be too exciting. The next short was The Band Concert starring Mickey Mouse. Donald Duck interrupts the concert Mickey is conducting and they have a musical show down that is disturbed by a tornado. The mix of The William Tell Overture and the action of the tornado make for a fun short animation. The third short from this group was Disney's musical take on The Three Little Pigs. The songs were kinda stupid and Disney didn't bring anything new or interesting to this classic story.

With a bit more free time we were able to watch the full length live action musical Newsies starring a teenage Christian Bale. This was an entertaining musical with interesting subject matter and good music. Bale shined as always and was supported by a great cast of young actors. The characters were well developed and humorous despite being cliche. Skip this one if you don't like musicals...you've probably already seen it if you do like musicals.

Our Disney video adventure was interrupted by a trip to Disneyland which I'll cover in my next post.

Mission 2 - Disney - DISNEYLAND!

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After 26 years I have finally been to Disneyland. I have wanted to go my whole life and I finally went. My in-laws gave the family a trip to Disneyland for Christmas. That is the reason that we have been doing Disney things this month. We figured that it would be easier to accomplish this month's mission if we did Disney things since we were going to go to Disney land for a week.

It would be impossible to do a day by day so I will try to hit the highlights!

Downtown Disney: This was the first thing we did. Downtown Disney is outside the park and is basically a glorified strip mall. A very cleverly disguised strip mall. Everything has a Disney touch. Everything is also very over priced. Granted I come from Chico, things are cheaper in Chico. We ate several dinners in Downtown Disney. First was House of Blues. I wanted to eat there so badly. I LOVE blues music and the Blues Brothers. I was pissed to find Heavy Metal blaring in the speakers and a SHITTY beer selection. My father-in-law paid $7 bucks for a freaking Stella Artois. Give me a break. We also ate at the Rainforest Cafe, which thankfully had slightly better beer selection. There was also a Mexican restaurant with really good carnitas. Everything was over priced and for the most part mediocre. But that's not point, the point is the experience. Which was worth every penny.

Disneyland Rides: Are the best. They are best combination speed and ambiance. My favorite ride was probably Indiana Jones, but there were so many others that I really enjoyed. Haunted Mansion was such a trip for me. I used to wait every Halloween to watch Disney's Halloween Treat and the Haunted Mansion ride is in the opening! I was singing the opening song in my head as we went though the ride. Matterhorn is fun, but made for midgets. Keith and I snuggled into the car and my knees were up to my eyeballs. I also LOVED the Grizzly Rapids in California Park. Got soaked but I didn't care it was so much fun. Splash Mountain was closed which was a bummer.

Churros: Churros are all over the place in the park and I am pretty sure I ate at least ten. They are so expensive but so tasty. While waiting in lines a churros and my ipod touch kept me happy.

Characters: Being a Disney geek, the character experience was so important to me. I saw: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, Goofy, Chip, Dale, Terk(Tarzan, gorilla), Meeko(Pocahantas, raccoon), Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Belle, Ariel, Tianna, Jasmine, Aladdin and the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella. The Parade we saw had Mary Poppins and Bert and Peter Pan and Wendy. It was so great to see all these characters but I didn't see the ones I really wanted to see. The character I wanted to see most was Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) she is my favorite princess. I also wanted to see Cinderella, Snow White, Maleficient, the Queen, Prince Phillip, Cruella and Mad Madame Mim. None of them were to be found. I went in thinking there would be characters everywhere. But there weren't, we found most of them by accident. I was so sad! I know it seems silly but I really wanted to see Aurora. I was super glad about all the others I did find and Keith and the family waited so patiently for me to get all my pictures and aside from one comment about making a shiv out of a churro everyone was super nice about it.

My trip to Disneyland was everything I could have hoped. Minus the lack of Aurora, it was perfect. I wish the shows would have been running but Keith and I got a sneak peek of the new water show via the glass elevator at our hotel, so that was cool. I definitely decided that should Keith and I have kids before we get to go to Disneyland again, we will wait until they are about 6 or 7 to take them. I saw too many parents with exploded diapers and exhausted faces. How can an infant appreciate Disney anyway?

My in-laws were so generous and fun during the trip. It was so cool to hang out with them and act like a bunch of kids. We really had a wonderful time. I also have to thank my sister for lending me her super fantastic small back-pac. It was the perfect size! It was the perfect accessory to the Disneyland trip. You can see most of our Disney pictures at Keith's flickr page

Mission 2 - Disney - Catch-up!

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As much as I hate to do one big post for multiple days, I find that I have no choice. The problem with doing something everyday and then writing about it is that, sometimes, by the time you are finished doing it you have no time to write about it. That has been the plague of Disney month.

Keith and I choose Disney for the month of May because we would be going to Disneyland in the middle of the month. It seemed that Disney would be the easiest thing to do or see everyday while we were in Disneyland. Unfortunately due MacBeth, work, packing for the trip and various other things we have had almost no time to actually sit down and watch a movie. We have mostly watched shorts.

My last post covered Aristocats. The next day's Disney was Darby O'Gill and the Little People. This is my favorite live action Disney movie. It has Sean Connery, he is so handsome and he sings! The special effects in this movie are pretty damn good for 1959. I love this movie, I watch it pretty often.

Over the next few days we watched shorts. We watched Trick or Treat and two Silly Symphonies. Trick or Treat is the short with Huey, Duey and Luey, Donald and Witch Hazel. Donald tricks the boys instead of treating them and witch Hazel helps them get even. It is also featured in the "Disney Halloween Treat" show that I used to watch every year on Halloween. It's my favorite of the funny Halloween themed shorts.

The first Silly Symphony was "the Band". This is the one with the William Tell Overture and the Storm. Mickey is the conductor of the band and Donald is a vendor with hopes of joining the band. He tries multiple times to play his flute and Mickey breaks them. Donald it seems has a never ending supply of flutes. A tornado comes and sweeps up the band, which doesn't stop them or Donald from playing. I love the Silly Symphonies and the exposure they give kids to classical music.

The second Silly Symphony was "The Three Little Pigs." Same old story, just this time they sing.

Newsies was the last thing that we watched before departing. I must say that I love Newsies. I love Christian Bale. Ilove everything he has every done and Newsies has him singing and dancing! In my opinion Christian Bale is one of the most under-rated actors. He is so versatile and talented. He's so little in Newsies too. He has such a lovely singing voice I wish he would do another musical.

Mission 2 - Disney - Aristocats

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Aristocats is one of my favorite Disney animated features. I just love it. I love the dynamic between the three kittens and their mother. I also love the music. It's jazzy and swanky, it really catches your ear and sticks in your head.

I have been finding that while I have been watching Disney my whole life, I have been more critical and paid more attention this month. Normally I watch these movies while cleaning or cooking so I am not paying super close attention to them.

Some people have said that the "Everybody Wants to be a Cat" scene with all the stereotypes is racist. I don't agree. Yes, the cats are from different countries and are drawn in identifiable cultural clothing but I didn't find that racist. I found it necessary to convey the point to children. The cats all have different accents but I think the clothes were necessary for children to put a country to an accent. There is some Disney that is falt out, without a doubt racist, but I don't think Aristocats is on that list.

I have always loved the line "You're not a lady, you're nothing but a sister." It always reminds me of the relationship I have with my siblings. We are constantly building each other up and then knocking each other down a peg. There is nothing quite like a sister or brother to keep you in check.

There was another line that I heard and it felt like I was hearing it for the first time. Duchess is out on the roof with Thomas and the kittens are watching the romance unfold. Duchess tell Thomas she cares for him but she must get back to Madame and their home and therefore can not be his girl. Berlioz says "Well, we almost had a father." I had never noticed that before, I was stunned. It's a pretty big comment. I am including a video of that scene. The voice of Duchess is obviously not Eva Gabor but it's all I could find.

Disney is big on the broken family thing. I can count on one hand the number of films where the main characters have both parents. Parents that love them and are there for them. It's a sick and twisted truth, maybe at some point Disney will decide that kids/animals from not-broken homes can get into trouble too!

Disney Month Catch Up

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I'm desperately behind here so I'm going to combine some of the Disney fun we've been having over the past week.

Ye Olden Days

This one was made in the olden days about the olden days' olden days. This animated short was made in 1933, making it a contender for oldest thing we will watch this month. It is set in the Middle Ages and follows Mickey's quest to get laid. I am concerned that Mickey and Minnie look so similar and have similar speech impediments; I suspect incest. The animation was primitive, even compared to Snow White which was made only a few years later. The story, silly animation, and songs were kinda fund, but I was glad it was short.



A Knight for a Day

I enjoyed A Knight for a Day. It's one of the animations with the amusing narrator starring Goofy. In fact, every character looked like Goofy. The only thing it was missing was the trademark Goofy Holler.

Mr Toad's Wild Ride

Mr. Toad is a wealthy sociopath with a need for speed, like an amphibious Richard Branson. This fixation is bankrupting Toad Hall, the pride of the community. The movie is based on Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willow and covers Mr. Toad's wrongful imprisonment, escape, and quest to clear his name. I enjoyed this one as well. The Wind in the Willow is a great story and Disney didn't ruin it.


The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

In Disney's version of the classic tale, Ichabod Crane's romantic rival stages a headless horseman attack to scare him off. Between Ichabod's interesting character and Bing Crosby's smooth voice this one wasn't too bad.



The Watcher in the Woods

For a thirty year old full length, live action Disney horror movie this was surprisingly good. By any other standard it was terrible. The movie takes place thirty years after some kids turned happy play time in the woods into creepy secret society ritual. This ritual coincided with a full eclipse of the sun and the combination caused cross dimensional magic to happen. The magic made one of the kids disappear. The missing kid has been replaced by and invisible being with poor communication skills. Now the main character Jan, who looks similar to the missing girl, is having strange experiences and tries to solve the mystery. The cross dimensional being gives her some really bad clues that convince Jan to recreate the ritual with the original attendees, now middle aged, with Jan standing in for the missing girl during another full eclipse of the sun. More magic happens and the missing girl reappears.

The biggest plot hole is the other worldly being is able to communicate by possessing people but refuses to just explain the situation to anyone. That other dimension must be a mess is everyone there is such bad communicators. This being might have been able to return home a lot sooner if it wasn't such a pain in the ass.

Mission 2: Disney - Watcher in the Woods

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I remembered Watcher in the Woods being super creepy when I was a kid. The Disney live action movies cover a wide range of genres. This particular movie is a supernatural thriller. I still like it, although watching it as an adult as brought up some interesting things.

First is the fact that as I child I had zero appreciation for things like plot and continuity. This movie is about a girl who must help correct a dimensional mistake that took place thirty years prior. The mistake caused an inter-dimensional rift that resulted in a being from another dimension switching places with a teenage girl named Karen. That is the cliff notes version. So here's my problem. There is something in the woods that is trying to stop the teenage girl, Jan, from correcting the mistake. The sinister something causes accidents and makes mischief. There is also something giving Jan clues. It is unclear if these are the same sinister something or not. However at the climax of the movie the the "watcher" comes to tell everyone what to do. It seems like Disney needed some more drama so they threw in some evil antics to ramp up the suspense. The identity of the evil doer never comes to light.

Second, how did they get Bette Davis to do this movie? Bette Davis had two Oscars before this movie was even conceived and then she gets a bland part. She brought the part of Karen's broken mother to life, despite the poor writing they handed her. She was pretty old in 1980 when this play was made, but she still has those amazing eyes and talent.

The last issue I have with this movie is that it hasn't been updated. There are so many movies getting the Disney take-two treatment. Most of them are the animated classics. Most recently though was a re-do of Escape from Witch Mountain. I really think that Watcher could use an update and would stand up well through the process. Maybe they could clean up some of the plot mistakes.

Mission 2: Disney - The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

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Once again I found myself on the floor in front of the television watching Disney and putting on my MacBeth make-up, stopping only to hurriedly eat dinner. I must say that a 6 o'clock call is brutal. I get off work at 5 o'clock and have to eat and have my make-up done so that I can have my fake, painted on tattoos touched up and my hair finished before people arrive. 1078 Gallery only has one bathroom and cast, crew and audience have to share it. It has certainly been an interesting experience.

I love Disney's version of The Legend Sleepy Hollow tale! It has been my favorite for as long as I can remember. I was born on Halloween and have had a love of scary stories and all things spooky ever since.

Disney's version is the second part of the "Ichabod and Mr. Toad" video. It is narrated by Bing Crosby. Bing also sings all the songs! I love it. There is something about Bing Crosby's voice that just warms my heart. I think Disney may have been on to something using a warm, friendly voice like Bing Crosby's for such a chilling tale. It's hard to be scared when Bing is crooning at you.

I am pretty sure everyone knows that Legend of Sleepy Hollow story. There have been so many incarnations a person is bound to have seen one. The Disney version is really focused on Ichabod himself. His gluttony, pride, and his superstitious nature are aptly portrayed. He is always eating! Always, yet he is so skinny. He is a funny man. I prefer to think that the Headless Horseman failed in getting Ichabod's head. Only in this version though. As I said nothing bad can happen when Bing Crosby is there.

I used to wait impatiently for the first day of October when I was little. That was when they started showing the Halloween cartoons. Disney's Halloween Treat was and still is my all time favorite show from my childhood. I still want to watch it on Halloween even though I am now twenty-six years old. Some things are just that good.

Mission 2: Disney - Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

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Ahhhh Mr. Toad. Every Disney fan's favorite lunatic. Unlike the other Disney crazies, Cruella or Madame Medusa for example, Mr. Toad is a perfectly lovely person. He is kind and funny and absolutely insane.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is half of the "Ichabod and Mr. Toad" video release. The story of Mr. Toad is narrate by Basil Rathbone. I love his voice. The story is from Wind in the Willows and is an interesting look into mental illness. Although I didn't see it that way as a child. I thought it was an adventure.

Mr. Toad has a obsession with transportation. He lusts after every means of conveyance that can be had. The story opens with the recent purchase of a gypsy cart and horse. Mr. Toad drives it at break neck speed through the area, stopping only when a motorcar drives by and he decides he wants that instead. It is explained that he suffers from mania. The cartoon makes it sound like a perfectly acceptable affliction. The only problem is that he is slowly bankrupting his estate with his excessive and constant purchases.

His friends try to stage an intervention but he sneaks away to fulfill his need for the motor car. Chaos ensues, Mr. Toad is arrested and the weasels take over Toad Hall. I am skipping some of the details in order to get to my point more readily.

Here's my point. This whole cartoon is about Mr. Toad's mania. A mania that affects his friends and his house. There is a failed intervention, an arrest, a jail break, a huge fight involving weasels and eventually the purchase of an airplane, followed closely by property damage. I think the lesson that children can take away from this is that being crazy is a jolly good adventure. Makes me wish I could be crazy too.

Mission 2: Disney - A Knight for a Day

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My MacBeth schedule is unforgiving. The show opens tonight though, so no more rehearsals! This brings up the problem that Keith and I have been facing with Operation Monthly. While it has been fun, it has been difficult to accomplish. Doing something everyday for a month in order to maintain a blog is one more thing that we have to add to the list of stuff we have to do. Everyday I look at my schedule and mentally add "watch something Disney" while trying to figure out how much time I have available and what fits in that amount time. It's tiring.

Thanks to MacBeth we once again watched a short. This is killing me because for every short we watch that is one less movie we get to watch and I love the movies. I love the shorts also, but the list of movies I want to write about is long. The short we watched was A Knight for a Day. It is one of the narrated Goofy shorts. There are a few with a narrator and Goofy doesn't really speak at all. Everyone else does, but not Goofy. Goofy acknowledges the narrator and performs the actions described. It's an interesting thing to watch.

In this short Goofy is "Cedric" the apprentice knight, who through an accident must compete in the tournament. The knight he is replacing in named Sir Loinsteak, and the knight he is fighting is named Sir Circumference. I think that is hilarious. Loinsteak and Circumference. Well done Disney, as a kid that went right over my head, as an adult I find it hilarious. Inappropriate, but hilarious. In my post about Ye Olden Days I complained about Goofy never getting the girl. Well this time he does, little Cedric (Goofy) defeats his opponent and gets the fair princess. Good for him. Now if only he could maintain the relationship.

Mission 2: Disney - Ye Olden Days

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Thanks to my theatre schedule we watched another short, Ye Olden Days. We watched this while I sat on the floor and started my crazy MacBeth make-up. This one is really old, like 1933 old. The one we watched is the original black and white version, they did remake it with color later. This is also a short where the characters sing. There is music throughout and a good portion of the dialouge is sung by the characters. The sound is WAY old school. Definitely a different technological time!

As the short begins there is a scroll that says "Ye Caste." Mickey and Minnie are there and "Ye Prince" is apparently Dippy Dog. Now I have to assume that Dippy Dog is the original moniker for Goofy. On IMDb the credit is listed as Goofy, it's listed that way everywhere else too.

Mickey is a wandering minstrel, Minnie a princess who is being forced to marry Goofy a prince. She refuses and is locked in the attic from where Mickey tries to rescue her. They are caught sneaking off and a duel for Minnie's hand ensues. Mickey wins (duh). They all live happily ever after. I really think that perhaps just once Goofy should get the girl. Goofy never gets the girls. Poor guy. Even decades later when Disney made Goof Troop. Goofy has a son Max but no wife, no girlfriend, he's a single dad and even his son is embarrassed by him. Goofy just can't buy a break. I suspect that his lack of success in the romance department is due to the fact the Disney never created a female dog. Goofy is a dog. Disney pairs off their couples by species, no inter-species love allowed. I guess Goofy will always be single. Lame.

Aside from the consistent neglect of Goofy, I love Disney. The last five days have been fun, well except Disney Channel day. That was awful.

Disney Month Day 3: Disney Channel

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On Monday we watched the Disney Channel from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM. First up was Phineas and Ferb. From Wikipedia:
Phineas and Ferb (also known as Disney's Phineas and Ferb) is an American animated television series. Originally broadcast as a preview on August 17, 2007 on Disney Channel, the series follows two suburban[1] stepbrothers[2] on summer vacation. Each day the pair devise ambitious, involved plans and inventions to stave off boredom, often bringing them into conflict with their sister, Candace. The series follows a standard plot system; running gags occur every episode, and the B-Plot almost always features the boys' pet platypus, Perry, acting as a secret agent to fight an evil scientist named Heinz Doofenshmirtz (originally named "Meddleshmirtz" by Povenmire & Swampy). The two plots intersect at the end to erase all traces of the boys' project just before Candace can show it to their mother.
The two ~10 minutes episodes we saw both followed this formula precisely. It seems like regular watchers would tire of the repetitive plot line but maybe their target audience is into that sort of thing. The first episode was actually fairly witty at first before descending into chaotic nonsense by the end. I didn't get the whole story because I was making dinner but it involved a Father/Daughter competition that didn't seem to feature the title characters. I missed much of the second episode but it involved Niagara Falls and bananas.

Next up was a short claymation titled Shaun the Sheep. It had the unmistakable style of Wallace and Gromit creators Aardman Animations. I didn't follow the storyline and there was no dialogue but I love Aardman's work and enjoyed watching the action. I did notice a Dr. Who joke: a guest at a costume party was dressed as a Dalek.

Our final Disney Channel programming was an episode of Good Luck Charlie. From Wikipedia:
Good Luck Charlie is an American family television sitcom airing on Disney Channel in the United States. The series was created by Phil Baker and Drew Vaupen, who wanted to create a program that would appeal to entire families as opposed to children only. It revolves around the Duncan family as they try to adjust to the birth of their fourth child, Charlie (Mia Talerico). In each episode, Teddy Duncan (Bridgit Mendler) creates a video diary containing advice for Charlie about their family and life as a teenager.
This show was terrible. The writing was bad and acting was worse. The three older children are left to take care of their infant sister. They lose the sister. Contrived and unsuccessful attempts at hilarity ensue. Sister is eventually located and I supposed everyone learns an important lesson. I am dumber for having watched this show.

The Disney Channel was just about as bad as I imagined it would be but I am happy to report that each show we watched had at least one poop joke. Avoid this show if you value your brain cells and please don't inflict this drivel upon your children.

Mission 2: Disney - The Disney Channel

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What a bunch of crap. Keith and I watched the Disney channel for an hour today from 5:00 to 6:00 pm. That time frame contained three different shows, Phineas and Ferb, Shaun the Sheep and Good Luck Charlie.

Phineas and Ferb is a cartoon about a family with two genius level sons, a pet platypus who fights crime and a plain sister. The 25 minute segment was broken up into two episodes. The first involving a father daughter picnic/competition. The genius sons built a blimp to view said event. The family pet platypus battles his nemesis for some unknown reason. The second episode centers on the sister babysitting her crush's little sister, who teaches her how to manipulate her two genius brothers. Meanwhile the brothers are using a broken sprinkler to make a water slide resembling Niagara Nalls. I actually really liked this cartoon. I liked how the writers blended mischief and science. There were several fun facts written into all the scenes. It was nice to see science being promoted.

Shaun the Sheep faked me out big time. The cartoon as all the appearances of being just like Wallace and Gromit, a favorite of Keith's. Other than the clay-mation style and the obviously British grubulub it is not anywhere near as cool. There is no dialogue, just accented grunts and grumbles and the story was stupid. I should mention that the cartoon was 5 minutes long, so maybe I should forgive the stupid story.


Good Luck Charlie was a waste of a good half hour. I plan to write the Disney Channel and ask for my thirty minutes back! The story centers on a girl filming life and dispensing advice for her baby sister. I thought it was an interesting premise. The execution however is awful. The acting, the writing, everything about it was terrible. I was disappointed to see even the adult actors butchering their simple script. Yes, they are acting in a kids show, but last I check kids aren't stupid. I found the whole idea of over acting in order to act down to kids ridiculously condescending.

I am of the beginning era generation for the Disney Channel. I was born the same year Disney Channel was created, 1983. I watched KIDS Incorporated, Rescue Rangers, Mickey Mouse Club (the Aguilara-Timberlake years), Gummi Bears, Darkwing Duck and so many more. I can still sing, upon request the theme songs to most of the Disney afternoon line-up. Don't believe me? Ask me sometime. I wish I had seen that same spark of fun in the Disney Channel of today as I did when I was 6. Maybe you do really lose a little magic when you grow up. But seriously, today's Disney Channel sucks.

Disney Month Day 2: Through the Mirror

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On Sunday we watched Through the Mirror, the short cartoon that is in the Alice in Wonderland (1951) DVD special features. I was working on finishing up beer month posts so I didn't really pay attention to Through the Mirror. I caught that Mickey was having an out of body experience in some sort of hallucinatory wonderland. I suspect that it was induced by cardiac arrest as even in 1951 Mickey would have been twenty three years old, which is very old for a mouse. Pet mice usually only live to be about five years old. I was relieved to see that Mickey survived this trauma and woke up at the end of the short animation.

Mission 2: Disney - Through the Mirror

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I love the Disney animated shorts. They are so much fun. "Through the Mirror" is the Micky Mouse take on "Through the Looking Glass" which is a story in the Alice and Wonderland series by Lewis Carol.

Mickey wanders through his mirror into the magical version of his house. His furniture and possessions have come to life complete with faces and personalities. Mickey eats a walnut and shrinks. He is now tiny and fits in the mirror world more readily. He begins to tap dance his way through his house, dancing with his possessions and eventually the queen of hearts card. The joker, on his bicycle (funny) notices and alerts the king of hearts who fights for his lady. Chaos ensues and Mickey escapes to the right side of the mirror. Eventually he is awakened by his alarm and it has all been a dream. The Lewis Carol book sits open at his feet.

One of the things I love about the Disney shorts is the music. There isn't often singing but there is always music. In some cases I can tell you which short you are watching simply by hearing the music. Mickey's tap dancing and the sound effects are perfectly timed with the music.

Has anyone ever noticed that the queen of hearts card looks exactly like Marlena Detirch?

Disney Month Day 1: Snow White

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I enjoyed Disney fare as a kid but like most normal people I grew out of it a long time ago. Stephanie on the other hand still loves Disney. Well, not so much loves as has a rabid zeal matched only in kinetic energy by the fires of Mordor. Given this fervor and that we already had a trip to Disneyland planned it made sense to make May Disney month.

We kicked off the Disney festivities with the first full length animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Disney started their trend of having lead characters with parents that are either dead or maniacal with Snow White. Snow White's crazy Stepmother is out to get her. At first it is implied that the Stepmother's murderous tendencies are caused by criminal insanity but evidence soon begins to pile up that her hatred of Snow White may be warranted. The first evidence against Snow White comes after she takes a walk through the woods. She is soon hallucinating, clearly the result of illicit drug use. She has a bad trip and ends up sleeping it off curled in the fetal position in the woods for the night. When Snow White comes to, her criminal rampage continues as she breaks into the Dwarfs' house and vandalizes it.

At this point I have to be honest: we failed our mission on the first day out. There was drinking to be done at our local watering hole so we didn't finish the movie. I can only imagine that Snow White's crime spree continues through the rest of the movie. Clearly the Stepmother was only looking out for her husband's kingdom. What would become of the kingdom if something happened to the King and a miscreant like Snow White gained power? The Stepmother had take drastic measures for the greater good of the kingdom and she should be commended for her sacrifice and bravery.

The Dwarfs' story is an unusual one. Their first scene has them hard at work in their gem mine. Their haul of precious gems is spectacular. They had managed to pull a fortune out of the earth in one day's work. If the Dwarfs have access to such a mother load it is hard to imagine why they live in a small disheveled cottage. My theory is that the King has taken advantage of their low level of intelligence by making them into some sort of indentured servants or slaves. They have been enslaved by the monarchy and are forced to hand over their fortune to fund the lavish lifestyle of the royal family. In their stupor they must not have realized that Snow White is herself royalty or they would have torn her asunder and buried her in the woods in revenge. Perhaps they wise up and this happens later in the movie.

Walt Disney must have been a man with a dark side. Many children must have had their fragile minds warped during the past seventy three years by this woeful tale.


Mission 2: Disney - Snow White

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Disney month begins with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Snow White was the first full length animated Disney feature. It premiered in 1937 and made history. It is the first of many Disney animated movies that helped shape my childhood.

Snow White is the story of a princess who is hated by her step-mother the Queen. The Queen has no name, she is simply the Queen. Snow White's crimes are her beauty and grace. To regain her place as fairest in the land the Queen tries multiple times to kill Snow White. She fails, the Prince saves Snow White and the Witch dies. Yes, I am telling you the ending. If you haven't seen it or read it, sorry.

The story comes from the Brothers Grimm, as do many of the future Disney animated movies. Disney takes a bit of license with the story. The Queen's death for example is different in the story. Rather than falling to her death from a cliff as she does in the movie, she dies from dancing in hot metal shoes. I guess that was too torturous for the eyes of children. The Queen visits Snow White three times in the Grimm tale rather than just the one time to deliver the poison apple. I supposed Snow White being laced too tightly into a corset was also too much for children.

I think Snow White is great. Though it's not my favorite. I find her voice annoyingly high pitched. Sometimes she sounds exactly like Shirley Temple. When she sings her natural vibrato is so fast and constant that I want to scream. The songs are fun and well written. I wish I could listen to the Prince sing more. Disney cut a lot of his stuff because he was difficult to animate.

Snow White was the first and is such an accomplishment. The animated movies that followed will always bee held to that standard. The movie coined the phrase "mirror, mirror on the wall who's the fairest one of all" although in the movie it is "Magic mirror" not "mirror, mirror" as it would later be quoted. I need to pick it up on DVD, I only have it on VHS.

Mission 2: Disney

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Mission number two is Disney. Operatives Keith and Stephanie will view or experience something from the Disney Corporation everyday for the month of May. This includes movies, animated shorts, the Disney Channel, and a trip to Disneyland theme park. They may not repeat a movie or cartoon. They must watch the movies in their entirety. This will be difficult given Keith's natural distrust for animated talking animals and Stephanie's insatiable love of singing along with the princesses.

Mission 1 Beer Debriefing

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Mission 1 has reached it's conclusion. Beer month is over. When I look back over the month I can not believe that it went by so fast. The process of drinking a beer every day for thirty days was surprising.

Everyone has been asking what my favorite beer has been. I can't say that I have a favorite beer. I like so many beers for so many reasons that I can't pick just one. Perhaps I could pick a favorite from each style, but even then it would be difficult. My top five beers for the month would be: Celebration, Racer 5, Arrogant Bastard, Rubicon Irish Red Ale and 90 Minute IPA.

I learned so much about beer this month. I tried beers that I normally wouldn't touch and found that I need to try new things more often. Brother Thelonious is a great example. I would not have tried that beer had it not been for beer month. I was forced to broaden my thoughts on beer and my palate. I have earned my beer snob membership card this month.

I don't think I could continue to drink a beer everyday. While I enjoy beer, I don't think my body is very happy about the increased alcohol consumption. For the past couple days I have felt like I may need to do a cleanse or something. My system feels a little sluggish. I didn't weigh myself at the start of this project, but I don't think drinking a beer every night after 10 o'clock made me more slender.

I have very much enjoyed having a project with Keith. He is an excellent partner in crime. It has been fun to write about something we are both passionate about. We both enjoy beer, the internet and each other, so beer month just made sense. Beer month may be over but Keith and I still love trying new beers. We have continued to pick up new and interesting beers when we are at the store. We will keep on posting about the new beers we try and love in the future.

Beer Month Wrap-up

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Beer Month was a fantastic way to start out Operation Monthly. We had a lot of fun trying new beers and revisiting some old favorites. My favorites for the month are Racer 5, Bigfoot, Celebration, Rubicon's Irish Red Ale and Arrogant Bastard Ale with honorable mention to Sierra 30 and Brother Thelonious. Surprisingly none of the beers we tried were terrible or without merit.

Along the way a few friends outed themselves as beer geeks and we met some folks from the craft beer community like Peter, Ashley and Josh. We also learned a lot about beer and the beer industry through our research for our posts, beer blogs, and by watching the documentary Beer Wars. The view of the of beer industry in Beer Wars is both inspiring and depressing. Seeing craft brewers like Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head doing what they love and making amazing beer was inspiring. Seeing the collusion between macro-brewers like Anheuser-Busch, politicians, and distributors that forces small brewers who want to make a quality product out of business was depressing. This movie is entertaining and definitely worth checking out.

Our beer adventures will continue beyond beer month, just not every single night. Along with trying new beers and going to an occasional brewfest we will be making our own beer for the first time thanks to my awesome sisters who got me home brew equipment for my birthday.

Here are few remaindered beer related items I picked up in April:

Mario Rubio » Reactions to Anchor Brewing’s Sale

Brooks on Beer: Aging beer - San Jose Mercury News

20 Things Worth Knowing About Beer - The Oatmeal

Beer Journal - 33 Beers

Brewers Association | Brewers Association Releases 2009 Top 50 Breweries Lists

Makers Market: Windy City Glass

Josh Christie » Mandles – Perfect for the Beer-Drinking Dude in Your Life

National Beer Day

Sierra Nevada Turns 30: An Interview with Ken Grossman

Beer Month Day 30: Sierra 30 Fritz & Ken

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It's appropriate that I'm getting around to my Sierra 30 post today since I turn 30 years old today. Hopefully Sierra Nevada and I both have many good years ahead of us. Fritz and Ken's Ale is the first of four beers Sierra Nevada is releasing this year in collaboration with some icons of craft beer to celebrate their thirtieth anniversary. Fritz Maytag owned Anchor Steam (sale recently announced) brewery for the last 45 years and Ken Grossman started Sierra Nevada.

Fritz & Ken's Ale is the best stout I've ever tasted. Take that for what it's worth as I've only tried a handful of stouts and it isn't my favorite style, but the beer geeks over at Beer Advocate agree with no one giving it less than an A-. It poured black with a frothy tan head. It smelled like malt and coffee. The rich and complex flavors included chocolate, coffee and roasted malts with a solid hop background, particularly at the finish. It was very creamy and surprisingly smooth considering the 9.2% ABV. I had no problem downing my half of our 750 ml bottle.

Peter over at BetterBeerBlog was lucky enough to attend the 30th Anniversary dinner hosted by Fritz and Ken at Anchor Steam and has graciously offered to let me include some of his recap of the event. The Fritz & Ken's Ale was paired with warm TCHO Chocolate-Old Foghorn Cake, caramel, Old Foghorn ice cream and raisin compote. Peter had this to say about the beer:

Very dark brown, nearly black with a brown head. The aroma has a deep roasted, nearly burnt quality with a moderate level of smokiness. The flavor is slightly sweet; the malt character is mellow with burnt and smoked malt character. Hop bitterness is a surprising medium-high/high level. This is a full bodied beer with medium-high carbonation.

I was pleasantly surprised by this beer. Knowing what I know about Fritz, I find him to be a man of tradition, especially when it comes to the beers he brews. That being said, I fully expected the stout to be strongly rooted in the Russian Imperial Stout style. I didn’t expect the smokey character of the beer at all but I like it’s inclusion. The beer changes character as it warms up and will change over the years, at least that’s what the majority of the brewers I’ve spoken with have said. Anchor head brewer Mike Lee told me that a couple of test batches were developed at Sierra Nevada’s pilot brewery and the 30th Anniversary Ale – Fritz and Ken’s Ale is the result of the tasting process. It’s a straight-up recipe, no blending with any of the other test batches.

Peter also provided some audio of Fritz and Ken talking about their collaboration:

Big thanks to Peter for the insider input! This was a fantastic beer to end Beer Month with and I look forward to the next three Sierra 30 brews.

Mission 1: Beer 30 - 30th Anniversary Ale

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The last day of beer month is upon us. The last beer is Ken and Fritz Ale or as it is more commonly known 30th Anniversary Ale. This year is the 30th birthday of Sierra Nevada. Keith and I both had the day off and drank our last beer in the middle of the afternoon.

30th Anniversary
is a stout. I think I have made my stand on stouts pretty clear. I don't favor them. This one is better than most. I found it to be very drinkable. It pours out black with a grey-brown head. The first thing I noticed was the chocolate smell and coffee flavor. I found the coffee flavor to be very strong. Thankfully for me, there is an unusual hop presence in the beer. I enjoyed it more than any other stout I have ever had.

The 30th anniversary of Sierra Nevada will bring three more specially made, collaborative beers throughout 2010. I am so excited. I have been very fortunate to grow up in a town with a business like Sierra Nevada. They have set the standard for what a garage based business can someday grown into. Sierra Nevada is always innovative and strives to be a good environmental citizen. They are proving that a business can go almost completely green and still turn a tidy profit. They do not seem to have compromised any of their craft brew integrity and to my mind are the best brewery in the nation. I know I am biased, but well, I'm still right.

The next 30th Anniversary beer to be released will be Charlie, Fred and Ken's Lager. It will be available in mid May. Put it on your calendar. These beers sell out fast!

Beer Month Day 29: 90 Minute IPA

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As I mentioned before Dogfish Head likes to experiment with their beers. Their 90 Minute IPA pushes the boundaries of hopped up beers. The name comes from the brewing process:
90 Minute IPA was our first continually-hopped beer, which is a method of hopping that allows for a pungent, but not crushing hop flavor.
It poured an amber color and had a piny citrus hop aroma. It had a similar taste with the addition of sweet malt. This beer is a must for hop heads. It has an odd complexity with lots of similar flavors. It's a constant guessing game between various citrus fruits, peach, and apricot flavors. My only complaint is the sweet malts and strong citrus hop flavor doesn't necessarily compliment each other. The combination can be overwhelming and might prevent me from having more than one 90 Minute IPA in a sitting.

Mission 1: Beer 29 - 90 Minute IPA

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90 Minute IPA is the third Dogfish Head brewery beer on our list. I love Dogfish Head. I don't always like their beers, but I love their passion. I wasn't crazy about the Palo Santo Marron but I am damn glad they made it. They are known for their highly experimental brews. They look at what the ancients drank and make it into beer for the modern man. They take ingredients from around the globe and make a beer that is truly international.

They make a delicious IPA. I was very pleased with the 90 Minute IPA. The 90 Minute is continuously hopped for 90 minutes during the brewing process, and is also dry-hopped. There are other incarnations, the 60 Minute, 75 Minute and 120 Minute. I will be trying each one in the future. The 90 Minute was refreshing, more so than your average IPA. IPA's aren't really beers you would reach for to relieve your parched throat. Well, I would, but I'm a freak. The hop flavor was fully developed beyond just the initial punch. I could drink this beer all day, any day, any season.

Beer Month Day 28: Eye of the Hawk

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Mendocino Brewing Company's Eye of the Hawk poured a deep amber color with noticeable sediment. Stephanie commented about how nice it looked in the glass and I agreed. It started out with a nice malt flavor but then finished with an odd yeasty sour flavor that I didn't enjoy.

This beer is smooth and you don't notice the 8% ABV but I didn't like bready flavor or the weird finish. I wouldn't rule out Stephanie's speculation that our bottle was bad, especially since Eye of the Hawk is rated so highly on Beer Advocate.

Beer Month Day 27: Boddingtons

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I found Boddingtons to be mostly flavorless. It is a typically underwhelming English import compared to the adventurous American craft beers I usually enjoy. It has a watery malt flavor with a hint of bitter hops. The nitrogen ball gives it a creamy feel but there isn't much flavor to back that up. It has a grainy/grassy flavor throughout and finishes like dirty water. If I'm going to go for an English import I would rather have a Smithwicks or any red ale.

We helped wrap up beer month by watching Beer Wars. I'll get into that more in a later post but we were disappointed to learn from the movie that brewing behemouth Anheuser-Busch bought Boddingtons which had its roots dating back to 1778 in England.

Beer Month Day 26: Arrogant Bastard Ale

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This is an aggressive beer. You probably won't like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. We would suggest that you stick to safer and more familiar territory - maybe something with a multi-million dollar ad campaign aimed at convincing you it's made in a little brewery, or one that implies that their tasteless fizzy yellow beer will give you more sex appeal. Perhaps you think multi-million dollar ad campaigns make a beer taste better. Perhaps you're mouthing your words as you read this.
These bold words are printed on the back of the Arrogant Bastard Ale bottle and pretty much sum up what craft beer drinkers think to themselves, but don't actually say, about their "tasteless fizzy yellow beer" drinking friends. The best thing about Arrogant Bastard Ale isn't the rude and hilarious disclaimer; the best thing is that it totally lives up to this brash statement.

Stone Brewing Company from the San Diego area makes some of the best beer I've ever had and Arrogant Bastard Ale is one of their best sellers. The bold names and fantastic art work make Stone's brews stand out but it's whats inside the bottle that really makes them shine.

Arrogant Bastard Ale poured a dark brown with a light tan head. The head lasted throughout leaving a lot of lacing on the glass. It has generous amounts of the piney hops that I am so fond of but there is a lot more going on here as well. This a complex beer with hints of caramel, chocolate, citrus and roasted malts.

I really enjoyed this beer. The only real problem I could find with it is that it will ruin your taste buds for any other beers for a while and I'm not sure I would want to drink multiple 22 oz bottles.