Friday, February 24, 2012

Traverse City Microbrew and Music Festival


For those in Michigan looking for a good time, northern resort town Traverse City (up towards the tip of your mitten's pinkie, for those in the know) offers quality entertainment options throughout the year. Hosting a burgeoning Comedy Festival that brings in top quality names, and gaining national recognition for a Film Festival that packs in celebs and tourists from both of the "other" coasts, TC is a destination for fun year-round set right on the shore of the Third Coast.

One of the most popular annual attractions offered by Traverse City is actually offered twice a year. Porterhouse Production's Microbrew and Music Festival takes place once in August and again in February, offering diverse talents in independent music and the broad palette of microbrew beer businesses to strut their stuff and present their wares to a growing and demographically diverse audience. I was lucky enough to attend this year's winter event with the lovely and talented Amy J. McIntosh, whose knowledge of the independent music scene is only matched by her insight into the magic and majesty that is Michigan's growing microbrew community.

The outdoor venue for the 3rd Annual Traverse City Winter Microbrew and Music Festival was again at the venerable Commons, once a state-run hospital; a nice return to open spaces and warm tents compared to last year's event that for some reason was held in town in long, crowded, cold tents. Set up in the sprawling campus yard, a horse-shoe of tents each contained an array of five to ten craft beers and a different musical theme. Amy and I enjoyed the Dragon Wagon rocky-folksy wonderment; the Keilbasa Kings fan-damn-tastic Polka, and of course the always happening Silent Disco, where patrons plug into ear pieces and dance silently to the bewilderment of the unknowing bystanders. At the center, three large bonfires served as gathering places for smiling faces and pink cheeks ranging from young twenty-somethings to older couples and aging gangs of long-time friends. The mix of the new-old venue and temperate climes made for a great day of good music, laughter, and excellent craft beers.

Amy introduced me to a variety of makes and manufacturers of these small-batch beers, most brewed and bottled right here in Michigan. It is easy to become lost among the levels of color, depth, and texture that the microbrew world offers. From IPAs to stouts and back again, a beginner may be overwhelmed by the generous offerings on hand. And based just on sight or smell or name alone, the uninitiated may be turned away at first glance before having sampled some of the best tasting beers to come along in years. Some jumped out at the senses with strong bouquets or harsh combinations of flavors, but most were appealing to both newcomers and connoisseurs alike. Luckily, I had Amy to guide me along the route, like an alcohol-laden game of Candy Land, leading me past Molasses Swamp and through the sugary-sweet wanna-bes to those brews of quality and worth. Of our favorites, -- and believe me, it took aaaaaall day to sample the dozens of designer beers in each of the four humongous tents,-- we included these top four which both Amy and I agreed were interesting to drink, unique to the palate, but not overwhelming or intimidating. Arbor Brewing Company's Ryeclops; Short's Brewing Company's Hopslam; Left Foot Charley's Cinnamon Girl; and Great Lakes Brewing Company's Dortmunder Gold.

The Ryeclops was heady and flavorful, and was easily one of the best brews at the event alongside the aromatic and wonderful Hopslam. Both were beefy, in-your-face tastes that stood their ground but never overpowered the palate. Amy raved about the Dortmunder Gold, which had a silky smooth taste that complimented both its color and its body. And thank God for the Cinnamon Girl, served hot, this warming cider went down all-too smoothly, and kept my charming companion and I toasty and toasted.

All in all, the Traverse City Microbrew and Music Festival was an experience that any tourist, lover of independent music, beer enthusiast, or local-born native might just consider the perfect warming weekend.

For more information on these beers, or for information on the next Traverse City Microbrew and Music Festival in August of 2012, make sure to check out Porterhouse Productions or go to brownpapertickets.com.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Bittersweet Anticipation of the Super Hero Movies

http://captainamerica.marvel.com/
http://thor-marvel.com/


Ok.
I've waited 40 years for this to happen, and I better not be disappointed.  I'm just saying.

2011 and 2012 could possibly present the biggest and most soul-satisfying movie-going summers of my entire life, and I say that with no undo hyperbole, friends and neighbors.  Those of you that know me understand that I am and always have been a certified, dyed in the wool comic book enthusiast. Not a Fan, with pointy ears and a geeky smirk and that "i've-never-seen-a-boobie" look on my acne-smeared face, but an Enthusiast, one who truly appreciates the medium as an art form, a hobby, and an investment to certain extents.  As a teacher, I was always a proporter of the comic as a way to get students reading -- as many curriculum make reading a chore and could take the fun out of sharpening a pencil, I always encouraged my students to read anything they wanted to read, within reason.  Comic books not only encourage students to read with high-interest material, they foster an appreciation of art; drawing; form and structure; writing; sequence of plot; formulaic storytelling; mythology; science; ethics; morality; societal roles; and more.  And during the last 10 years or so, this art form has been adapted with mixed results to a new medium, that of motion pictures.

It has been a rocky road, this love affair between Hollywood and comic books.  And the results have not always been fireworks and fanfare like the first Spider-Man movie.  Many have been crash and burn flops boardering on the insipid, like the uber-shlocky Elektra. Jennifer Garner owes me $8.50.

I was not happy with the Hulk attempts, and felt bad for Ed Norton (the second Mr. Banner, like a smarter, angrier Dick York), who wrote the second movie's script and then had it hacked to pieces once out of his grasp.  The Fantastic Four movies showed promise with Micheal Chicklis, or whatever his name is.  But Jessica Alba was about as convincing a Sue Storm as Martin Lawrence is a an elderly black woman.  The only thing of redeeming quality was the flip and flirty Chris Evans as the Human Torch.  He did a good job in that.  And then Iron Man came along, and revitalized my faith that such collaborations could be created if MovieLand just stuck to the core material to begin with and did not try to "refresh" aspects of the mythologies which they deemed replaceable.  Note: Dr. Doom is not a morphing metal madman. Bruce Banner's dad is not the Absorbing Man. Nick Fury is not Samuel L. Jackson (and I know somebody's not gonna agree with me on that. But the Ultimate Universe is not the Marvel Universe, and the two should never cross. So shut the hell up.). 

Iron Man was such a hit that it fueled the creation of more super-hero movies.  And to my giddy excitement, movies that piece together like a great, four-color puzzle.  See, The Hulk and Iron Man were founding members of one of my favorite comics, The Avengers.  This is a team of heavy-hitters comprised of these two big guns, Thor, some incidental characters I'll mention in a minute, and my all-time favorite comic book character: Captain America.  SO, now we have the new Thor movie set to show in May, and then the new Captain America, all in anticipation of the Avengers movie next year.  The new Cap movie is actually titled "Captain America: The First Avenger" to whet the appetites of the faithful.

And for those who actually thought Seth Rogan was a convincing Green Hornet (you putzes), he's actually slated to play Hank Pym as Ant Man, one of those "incidental characters" I mentioned previously.  If there is a God in Heaven, this movie will never be made.  Seth. Listen, buddy.  Produce, write, make little stoney flicks with crude humor and semi-ad-libbed scripts. But stop with the super hero thing. Some of us care.

So I'm ready. Ready to be amazed and ready to be disgusted. The movies will either meet my extreme expectations or fall ridiculously flat.  And its my own fault. I know too much about movie making and I know too much about comic books and the core subject material is closer to me than most people are to their football teams. 

But I've seen the trailers. Even football fans saw them as they watched the Super Bowl. And I've attached the links at the top for you to see them.  And thus far....I'm amazed.  The Cap trailer has the Red Skull looking fairly cool as he pulls off a rubber-faced disguise (a trade-mark of his in the early books), and tanks with Hydra insignias (a big Cap enemy group), and even Cap leading the Howling Commandos in WWII, which should have been Nick Fury's job, but they had to reboot that to cover for Samuel L. Jackson! [I'm waving my clenched fist in the air here, but you can't see it.] But who plays Cap?  Chris Evans, the aforementioned Human Torch from the FF movies!  Really?  Really, Hollywood?  There was no body else who fit the suit?  Huh.  I'll be damned. Well, let's hope he's the right man to fill Steve Rogers shoes and does an amazing job.  Personally, I think he'd make a better Hawkeye, but I've already lost you I'm sure with too many comic referrences, so let's suffice to say I'm trepidacious, but optimistic.

And the Thor trailer is up there, too.  And it looks pretty damn good, too, except that I have no idea who this bohunk is playing Thor, and Natalie Portman is in it, ensuring her appearances at Sci-Fi Conventions 20 years from now if this Black Swan thing doesn't pan out, and the fact that it's in 3D.  Christ, enough with the 3D already!  We get it!  Stuff looks kinda realish, but not quite.  Got it.  But Sir Anthony Hopkins is in it, which is cool, as Odin, Thor's father. I'm interested in seeing how he does. And they show the Destoyer, too, which flitted my little 10-year-old heart when I saw that classic Thor villian.  And in the trailer, Thor is being questioned by that same robotic SHIELD Agent from the Iron Man movies, so I know there's going to be some good sequences of Thor vs. the Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-Enforcement Division.  oh, god...i am a geek, aren't i?

So take a look at the trailers and let me know what you think.  I'll be here, getting the popcorn and the hari-kari sword ready.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Return of the Fatted Pig

I have returned.

I know a lot of you thought I'd died. Not true. Hell, I thought I was dead, too. Turns out I was just in Reseda.

But I'm back now, and ready to talk, type, and state things as I see fit, the Scott Said So way. I have refueled the furnace of my ego and have a surplus of hot air waiting to spew across your computer monitors. After all I've been through these past six months, I am ready to perry, thrust, and eviserate a variety of American icons, topics, and sacred cows. Yup. It's been a rough year. I would fill you in, but my esteemed legal counsel, Mr. Jacob Stein, has advised me against espousing details. I can only tell you that the many outlandish rumors of my alleged "incarceration" abroad were blown wildly out of proportion, and there is not one shred of evidence linking me to any of the sordid events involving any of those interns. Speculations and hearsay I tell you! Matter of fact, I refuse to speak further on the subject. I will simply add that I have nothing further to add.

And now...to the business at hand.

Well here it is a brand new year, ripe with possibilities and prospects. The rotting, bloated carcass of 2010 shrinking in our rear-view mirrors as we motor head-long into what will surely be a grab-bag of WTFs and You'veGottaBeKiddings. And I think I'm awake and sober enough now to be able to report and comment on anything that comes our way, people. I have a slew of topics I'm itching to tear into, and can't wait to get back up on that spot-lit soap-box where a blow-hard such as myself likes to think he belongs.

So, if you've an open mind and an ax to grind, or if you love spoon-fed opinions that are spicy and bite-sized, then all I can say is get comfortable, strap yourselves in, and open wide! Scott Said So is back, and I plan on being heard.

Want me to go off on something in particular? Tired of me already? One of the many hoping I'd remain dead? Email me. I'll be here, sharpening my rapier-like wit and shoveling coal into my ego.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Morons, Captured On Film!

Saw this posted on the Internet and fell deeply in love. Very rarely does something come around on film that truly captures an aspect of my rants so brilliantly. You've heard me go on and on about the "Morons" out there who "aren't as Cool as You" when you're driving. Well, this video montage helps bring a lot of what I'm talking about into clear focus.

I must apologize, however, as the original title of this was some kind of a slam against "women drivers." And that is NOT my intention at all when passing this video along. Stupidity knows no sex, resides not completely within any one gender, or race, or skin color. There are stupid people of every ethnicity, on every continent, and in every family. A Moron Driver is a Moron Driver. Period. They jeopardize our safety individually, and weaken us as a nation collectively.

Now, having said that, I hope you will think of this amusing video as a tutorial of sorts, on what not to do when behind the wheel. Like it? Let me know. Think it's garbage and I'm a monger of bad taste for showing it? Fine. Just let me know. I'll be here, texting in the safety of my driveway.

Enjoy!

video

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Power of Ten Bucks

Whatever happened to the power of ten bucks? Remember when ten bucks in your pocket meant something? You'd reach into the right front pocket of your Levis and you'd feel the bills all wrinkled and folded, and you'd remember, "Oh, yeah. I still got that ten bucks." And you'd just smile, just a little.
A little feeling of empowerment. A spring in your step. And somehow that meant you had possibilities that moments before were not on your horizon. You could maybe go see a movie, or buy a couple of beers, or take a cab downtown, or pick up a pizza, or whatever.

That's a good feeling, the Power of Ten Bucks. I'd like my kids to have that. To them, ten bucks is nothing. Nothing! Ten bucks can't get them in anywhere, can't provide them with that same sense of power and potential that it did for us. They need that. Hell, I need that. That daily dose of power. A lot of people could really use that now, I think. That Power of Ten Bucks. Too many of us, too often, go too many days in a row without that special little feeling of empowerment, and I think maybe we end up feeling just a degree less potent, less important, less jazzed about the day's possibilities.

Ain't that sad?

I say, let's get it back. Let's make ten bucks mean something again. "Wake up, Grampa," you say. "Those days are long gone, Scotty-boy. You're living in the past."

And to that I gently reply, "Stuff that noise."

I still say ten bucks is a good little chunk of change. And I feel quite strongly that ten bucks should be enough money to buy three people some fast food. And something other than a freekin' fillet o'fish, too. I'm talking about a good size burger, some fries, and a nice size soda. Ten bucks should get two people into a movie, (and the movie should be WORTH ten bucks...can I get a "Hell, yes!"), and the dude should still have some money left over to buy his date some popcorn.

Am I talking crazy here? I think not. Have we forgotten who's in charge around here? Is that how impotent the world has made the majority of us feel? Like we're just faceless automotons, cogs in a wheel too great for us to understand or impose our own identity upon?

Well, let us not forget how important we are as individuals in this country. We are cogs, yes, I'll agree. But cogs make the machine run, baby. Without us, it's all smoke and noise. We decide the price of EVERYTHING on sale in America. Ev-Er-EE-Thing. The price of a cup of coffee is NOT set by the supply but by the DEMAND. You get enough people in this country to say "No" to Starbucks' $3.00 cup of coffee; you watch that price drop like an anvil out of a Warner Brothers sky. You really believe a new car in this country should cost $30,000? That a 2,000 square foot house should cost $350,000 and you should pay for it for 30 years and still owe $200,000 on it? That you should pay cable television services for 100 channels you don't watch (I don't need six Korean language stations, do I?)? That a Hershey Bar should cost ten times what it did thirty years ago, and be smaller in size? That gasoline needs to be $3.00 a gallon? "Scott, there's nothing we can do. You're being stupid."

Really. Well, a wiser man than I once said, "Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers!" CASE IN POINT: If every American citizen uses just one gallon of gas each day (according to recent studies, this is the case.), and this includes babies who don't drive, I know, but it also includes truckers and bus drivers and construction personnel who drive for a living, so hear me out. So take that as a standard, one gallon of gasoline per person in the U.S. each day. Ok. So. What if we all, every person, just did not drive for one whole day. One 24 hour period. That's it. Just do not use the car for anything. (Ok, we'd make exceptions for emergency vehicles. Yeesh.) That means that 350 million gallons of gas would not get used on that day. And, if each gallon cost an average of, let's be conservative here, $3.00 a gallon, then that would be more than ONE BILLION DOLLARS in ONE DAY that the oil companies would lose out on, and that the American public would gain.

Ok, ok. I understand. Not everybody can do that. Police. Hospitals. Whatever. I know. But if only ONE PERCENT of the public did it, that would still be $10 Million Dollars lost to the oil companies in one day. And what if we repeated that just once a month for a whole year? We could set both the precedent and the price. And we would remember that we do have control, that we are important, that we do not live in a world that we have little or no say in, and that we cannot or do not control.

And we could make ten bucks in your pocket mean something again.

I await your two cents. I'll be here, sitting in my counting house eating bread with honey.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Random Rant

Sometimes I'm wondering if anybody is actually paying attention to the facts. Seems alotta times we get wrapped up in our emotions about a topic, and don't take the time to take a breath and pay attention to the facts and figures from a safe distance.

Ferinstince: I'm on Facebook (because I am a mindless automoton who craves any kind of tiny spotlight, that's why), and one of those useless "polls" comes up: Should "one nation, under God" be taken out of the Pledge of Allegiance, it was asking. And without hesitation I voted Yes.

My reasoning is just this: It's not part of the original verse. It was added in the 1940s, I believe, by President Roosevelt (and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on the date or the man), but the fact remains it was added. So taking it out is not commiting some kind of sacrilege, it's not revisionist-history-making, and it is certainly - by far - Not Un-American.

America SHOULD change things from time to time, in order to keep up with the times and the temperment of its people. It needs to take a fresh look at things, compare and contrast the facts to the principles we've built them upon, and review, rethink, and re-edit when needed. Hell, the Vatican did! And I'm thankful I can eat a Slim-Jim on Friday now. We do it with our currency, and not just to stay one step ahead of the counterfieters, either. How many Buffalo Head nickels you see anymore?

Point is that the term "under God" is a great thought; a heart-warming hug of safety and nostalgia that makes a lot of Americans feel all warm and snuggly. It is not "bad." It is, however, not needed. It does not make the Pledge any more or less American, Communistic, Socialistic, or Federalistic. (...is that last one even a word? Look that up and get back to me.) It simply does not accurately reflect the ideals or commitments implied by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We've got to keep in mind that this country is not made up of just You's and Me's. It's a whole lotta Them's. And that's cool. Together, we're all still Us. We just gotta remember to look at things bigger.

We, as Americans, have got to look at things in the big picture, and the big picture here is "Sometimes you don't get your way, just 'cuz you think you're right." Sometimes, even though you are a lovely person, an honest taxpayer and one helluva golfer, the thing you want most dearly in life may not be the best thing for the entire country. And that's ok. That's the way it works. Sometimes, you don't get your way. And you have to learn to live with that and move on.

Still upset by the decisions being made? Good. Means you're still paying attention. Now you're next move is writing letters, studying the concepts, researching the topics both pro and con so you can make the best possible judgments, and working the system. It is NOT just whining on Facebook or Twitter or MySpace -- if you're 12, that is -- and screaming out in your status update about your tiny little thoughts. Shut up and DO something if you don't like it. That's what America is all about: Doing something. Good, bad, indifferent. But doing something. Something that will, if you're lucky, smart, and determined enough, actually incite a change. A change for the better, maybe. A change that will turn people's heads and get them thinking. A change, perhaps, in something that many folks consider a solid, unchangeable staple of the American landscape.

Like the words in the Pledge of Allegiance.

So it seems to me that whatever side of this point you're on, you have a chance to do something about it. For it or a'gin it, you get to make a stand and hopefully be counted. Ah, I love America!

And I know there'll be backlash. A huge, tsunami wave of crap-laden backlash, sweeping my way from people I've known and not seen for thirty years. My Michigan friends, my Los Angeles colleagues, my Asian Hookers. They'll all come out of the woodwork now and tell me how wrong I am.

At least, I hope they do. That way I'll know somebody is still paying attention. Until the villagers storm my walls weilding torches and pitchforks, leave me your thoughts on the subject. I'll be here, boiling the oil in the parapits.

By the way, this was a one-draft rant, so save your barbs about my spelling and grammar. I didn't even go back to check. Thanks.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Obama's Speech Controversy

Ok, I'm pissed, so sit down and strap in. Here it comes.

I cannot believe the idiocy I am hearing from all kinds of citizens and political pundits with regard to the President of the United States addressing this nation's school children just this past week.

This country is stronger than any one speech given by any one man. These are WORDS, people. Words. And this is the United States, a country founded on some pretty cool ideals, one of them being Freedom of Speech. And with that comes the responsibility of those listening to... shut up and listen! A wiser man than I once said, "I may not agree with what you say, but I'll defend with my life your right to say it." But that seems way too tough for a bunch of parents who themselves were raised on "Just Do It", "Just Say No!" and "Have it Your Way." If they are against it, then they're not going to let anyone, anywhere, make up their own minds, it seems.

Have we so forgotten our own strengths that we have become a nation of complete knee-jerk reactionaries? Scared of words? And is that how we've raised our children, that they could be swayed by one speech? That this one episode will so curve their spines, disease their minds, and destroy their sense of free will that they're going to ...what...goose step down the halls of their schools now? I raised my kids with a little bit more integrity than that. They are open minded and thoughtful, and willing to take in new ideas while at the same time remembering who they are and where they come from! Are parents in this country so cowardly and so poor at their parental responsibilities that they believe this one speech will turn their precious air-heads into socialistic zombies? Really?

You don't like Obama? Fine. I grew up with Nixon. My Dad taught me one thing when I made fun of ol' Tricky Dick back in '73: If you can't respect the man, respect the position. Seems to me, too many are too quick to pull the plug on Obama already, and he's not even celebrated his first anniversary yet.

And what about the other side of this coin? The BS I keep hearing about how our school children are being 'forced' to watch this propaganda. They don't have to watch it, they get to watch it! There's a huge difference! Seems to me, parents and political figures who don't agree with our President's views and formats don't want anybody else to, either. Which is nothing new, I realize. But to raise such a stink about children getting to hear the views of the leader of the free world is not only sickening, it is embarrassing. Used to be a time in this country when listening to the president speak in school was a treat. Like watching "Gone With the Wind" or "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Once each year, maybe, tops, you got to see that. And here our kids have a chance to hear him speak, and parents are so used to dipping everything their kids come in contact with knee-deep in Purell, they're afraid it won't be sanitized enough for their tender toddlers.

And another thing. I don't care what he has to say, or if he changed his mind about it seven times before he said it, or that it's socialist dogma or political pandering or the last act of Henry V! The President would like to address our kids! How cool is that? Sure I wish it were Michael Douglas from "The American President" but, hey! This ain't a movie! And you had a chance to be casting director for this flick by casting a vote back in November. If I were king, only people that voted would get to speak about political happenings in the paper or on CNN, anyway.

Speaking of which, listen to this, from CNN:
"Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a possible contender for the GOP's 2012 presidential nomination, said Friday the classroom is no place to show a video address from Obama.
'At a minimum it's disruptive. Number two, it's uninvited. And number three, if people would like to hear his message they can, on a voluntary basis, go to YouTube or some other source and get it. I don't think he needs to force it upon the nation's school children,' he told reporters at the Minnesota State fair."


Yeah. Right. Politics has no place in our nation's schools. Let 'em learn about it on the streets and on the internet. Good thinking, you idiot.

And how about this one, also from CNN:
"Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer released a statement this week accusing Obama of using taxpayer money to "indoctrinate" children. 'As the father of four children, I am absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama's socialist ideology,' Greer said. 'The idea that school children across our nation will be forced to watch the president justify his plans ... is not only infuriating, but goes against beliefs of the majority of Americans, while bypassing American parents through an invasive abuse of power."


Wow! Get some pitchforks and torches! Free Barabus! An invasive use of power? Obama's not coming into your living room smoking Lucky Strikes and slapping your wife on the ass, buddy. He's TALKING. Talking to your children. And if you're that scared about what they might hear or understand or misinterpret, well, then maybe you should have spent equally as much time talking to them in the first place.

I'm Scott Miller. I'm a teacher. And I am pissed off and saddened by today's Americans who think this country is some kind of metal you can beat the impurities out of. If anything, it is an amalgam, made stronger from the melding of all forms of metal, hardened in the furnaces of adversity, and forged into a shining example for the rest of the world to look at and respect. But hey. That's just me. Tell me what you think. I'll be here, polishing my shield and ironing my flag.