Monday, July 27, 2015

Alien Outpost

In 2033, a documentary crew is sent to film the actions of the soldiers of Outpost 37 in this science fiction military film. Featuring interviews with the soldiers in an attempt to provide some characterization and a script that consists primarily of the words "Hey!" and "Let's go!", Alien Outpost tries to draw comparisons to our present day military actions through the metaphor of alien invasion, and it's reminiscent of Starship Troopers, which I also hated, but at least Starship Troopers had Neil Patrick Harris dressed up as a quasi-space nazi and sudsy co-ed space showers. However, I did like one moment where a soldier was sent out on the battlefield to pick up gooey, dismembered body parts, which caused me to unintentionally LOL. Unfortunately, Alien Outpost drags whenever something isn't blowing up.


A man goes on a quest to uncover the secret behind an alleged 6" long alien corpse in this over-long UFO documentary. Featuring wide-ranging subject matter including Sanskrit texts, the military-industrial complex, free energy machines, anti-gravity, and cheesy new age musical interludes, Sirius is a well-shot, earnest, and fairly wacky conspiracy film that is going to disappoint anyone not entirely convinced the corpse is of alien origin.


The BBC does a 'live' paranormal investigation in this controversial reality-horror movie. Pre-dating now commonplace paranormal TV shows like Ghosthunters, Ghost Adventures, and Most Haunted, Ghostwatch is fairly convincing up until the ending, and during its original airing in 1992 caused 30,000 calls in one hour to the BBC from 'irate and frightened viewers', one supposed suicide, and two cases of PTSD ( I found the program being fairly prescient in some ways, terribly dated in others, and not particularly scary.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Three On A Meathook

Chicks are murdered by someone in an old house in this horror film. After the chicks skinny-dip together in a lake, which was a fairly common practice during the 1970s, a creepy guy in a boat rows slowly past as ominous music plays on the soundtrack. The chicks go for a drive at midnight and their car breaks down, and suddenly the creepy guy drives up to give them a hand, which isn't at all suspicious. He then drives them all back to his place, which again was a fairly common practice during the 1970s. Suddenly, the creepy dude's dad shows up and gives him a scolding, because the creepy guy isn't supposed to have a car full of sexy chicks at his creepy farmhouse because 'bad things will happen'. Then the creepy guy offers the chicks mystery meat sandwiches, which was a fairly common practice in the 1970s and isn't at all suspicious considering the creepy guy says they're made from 'Pa's special smoked meat'.

Now, I know what you're thinking, that the creepy guy is going to cut up and smoke these chicks, but again, people often offered one another mystery meats during the 1970s. In fact, I don't think anyone ate anything other than mystery meats in the 1970s. Sometimes they threw parties for the sole reason of putting mystery meat on toothpicks.

So then one of the chicks takes a midnight bath, which again was a fairly common practice during the 1970s, and someone stabs the crap out of her. The killer shoots 2 of her friends, and one of the chicks escapes, only to have her head cut off.

Now, I know what you're thinking, that the title of the movie is Three On A Meathook, and that there were 4 chicks who were savagely murdered. Well, I don't have the answer for that. I guess math was just about as important during the 1970s as it is now.

Then the creepy guy walks around downtown to a soft rock jam, and that was a fairly common practice during the 1970s.

Well, lots of boring, slow-moving, and tedious movie happens, and then it ends, but not before pulling a Psycho and trying to explain the killer's motives. Meh. Here's a spoileriffic trailer.

Friday, July 10, 2015

What Stabford did on his summer vacation

Sorry for the lack of film reviews lately, but I was on a brief vacation through the Midwest, and it was delicious.

It used to be difficult trying to find quality food while on a road trip, particularly if you're trying to be vegetarian, but smart-phones have changed all that. Sure, you can easily stop at Taco Bell at any exit on any highway for one of their quality bean burritos (insert sarcasm font here), but you should really reward yourself by taking a few extra minutes to explore a new city and take a culinary adventure. Ask Siri, and she'll direct you away from Sonic and their 44 oz. cherry lime-aids. Ok, so let's get right to it.

I'm going to go ahead and contradict was I just said. In Louisville, I stopped at Sonic. I used to love Sonic. The roller-skating carhops, the little plastic animals that used to hang on the rim of your cherry lime-aid, the foot-long chili dogs. From what I remembered, they used to serve what was once considered food.

Unfortunately, Sonic has become another casualty of the dollar-menu-fication of fast food, where you get a big pile of nasty crap for a buck and a lifetime of regret. So, throwing caution and common sense to the wind, I ordered a large tater tot and a cherry lime-ade. What I got was a vat of overly-sweet cherry lime-aid I could swim in, and an order of lukewarm, soggy, unappetizing tater tots that had a rancid aftertaste that lingered. Never again.

Fortunately, The Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen was across the street, and I bought a Pecan Chocolate Chip Pie to help me forget my Route 44 mistake.

It was lovely, with a delicate crust and a rich, custard-like filling. The salesperson behind the counter attempted to up-sell me on a Chocolate Chess Pie for half-price, and I nearly bought it until I came to my senses. Eating one pie is acceptable, I think, but attempting to eat two whole pies while driving is sheer madness.

It was a dark and stormy night when we pulled into Santa Claus, Indiana. In fact, it was hailing. We stayed at Santa's Lodge, which is a hotel decorated for X-Mas year-round.

Here's a cell-phone photo of a Polaroid of an Instagram of a cell-phone photo of me getting all Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on Ol' Saint Nick. Sorry if it's hard to make out my epic spinning back-kick because of bad lighting and over-exposure, but that's how most photos of me turn out.

If X-Mas is ruined for everyone this year, oops, sorry.

Just so you know, down the street from the hotel is an amusement park dedicated to Santa Claus, but we didn't go because it was midnight, hailing, and it would've cut into my Holly Jolly Battle Royale with Santa.

We stopped for a while in St. Louis. Lunch was at SweetArt, which is a vegan bakery in the historic, artsy Shaw Neighborhood. The walls of the bakery are lined with beautiful art, and the counter was full of beautiful baked goods. I had a wonderful veggie burger that came with a side of kale salad. The salad was light and crisp, and the homemade dressing had a subtle sweetness that complimented the kale's bitterness. A woman sitting next to us asked the server for the recipe of the dressing, and I was straining my ears eavesdropping, but the server refused to tell claiming it was a secret. The burger had a moist, meat-like consistency, and it was one of the best veggie burgers I've ever had. We bought a piece of art and a dozen mini-cupcakes, because why wouldn't you?

Around the corner was Ices Plain And Fancy, and I had a cherry cordial ice cream. They prepare it using liquid nitrogen and a blow-torch, and I feel all food should be prepared this way. Set your food on fire! Why not? Setting fire to my tater tots in Louisville could only have helped them. Anyway, the ice cream was silky smooth and loaded with chunks of maraschino cherries and chocolate chips, and the visual spectacle of watching your dessert being prepared in a cloud of fog makes Ices Pure And Fancy worth a stop. They'll also booze up your ice cream if you want, but don't drink and drive and eat ice cream. It's madness.

Then we stopped in Kansas City, and had dinner at Blue Koi in the bohemian neighborhood of Westport. I had the Vegetable Noodle Soup, which had a savory broth, wheels of corn on the cob, tender tofu, and thick noodles. Vegetable broths can be bland, but Blue Koi's was surprisingly flavorful, and I worried I might find an errant chunk of chicken. My fears were unfounded as the dish is totally vegetarian.

Then next morning I had a vegan Coconut Lime Bundt cake from Mud Pie in Westport. While dense, the cake was moist and citrusy. Mud Pie had a wide selection of vegan baked goods and sandwiches, and it was difficult choosing. Fruit in bundt form is totally good for you. Trust me.

For lunch we had flaming cheese from Jerusalem Cafe in Westport. Again, more dishes should be brought to the table ablaze. The cheese partially melted and caramelized against the metal serving dish, and it was fun scraping up the browned, cheesy bits with pita. Plus, fire.

We visited the Nelson-Atkins Museum Of Art to see their exhibit "A Shared Legacy: Folk Art In America". I'm a big fan of folk art, and I really like the less polished, more amateurish pieces. It makes me feel better about whatever it is that I'm doing, since I'm not at all polished and very amateurish. Unfortunately, this exhibit verged more on the Primitive side, and featured carvings and weathervanes. All of the artwork was very finely crafted and polished. It was beautiful and informative, but not really my speed. With the purchase of a ticket to the Folk Art exhibit, you get access to an exhibit about the famed restaurant El Bulli, which was also very interesting. One more thing that I really liked about the Nelson, they have self-guided tours focusing on LGBTQ-themed, haunted, and mysterious artwork, which I thought was highly unusual.

We liked St. Louis so much we decided to stop there again and had breakfast at the Goody Goody Diner. I ordered a waffle and scrambled eggs, but here's a picture of their chicken and waffles. The waffle was crisp, light and airy, and I skipped the syrup. It was just that good. Their menu makes it easy to order your eggs in almost a dozen different levels of doneness, as it has a helpful guide. I ordered mine scrambled 'medium', and they were creamy and delightful.

We stopped in downtown Indianapolis, and had lunch at Three Carrots in City Market. I had the Seitanderloin, which is a breaded and fried piece of seitan that resembled a pork tenderloin. It was crisp and savory, and topped with a garlic aioli. I'm going to try to recreate this sandwich at home.

I'm hoping this self-indulgent post of food pr0n either helps you feel more confident in finding vegetarian food on the road or gets me a lucrative food blogging career, one or the other. Send me cash and I'll gladly travel for sandwiches.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

House Of The Yellow Carpet

A young couple attempts to sell a yellow carpet in this convoluted giallo thriller with a script reminiscent of Diabolique. After a woman sucks the blood out of her husband's foot, a creepy dude shows up and tries to buy the only-somewhat-threatening carpet as the cameraman cuts dramatically to the carpet as if it has lines to say. Suddenly, the blinds are closed, candles are lit, and everyone starts discussing stain removers and nail polish, and I realize this movie is one of Martha Stewart's Halloween episodes.

I'm not certain what a bone folder is, but it sounds terrifying, and House Of The Yellow Carpet could have used a couple of bone folders to liven things up. I'm assuming a bone folder is a huge, smoke-belching machine that you shove people into and they get folded up like an origami swan and scream and scream and scream. Hold on just a second, and I'll google it.

OK, I'm back. Sadly, a bone folder is not a people-crushing machine, and googling 'bone folder' is probably one of the most boring things I've ever done, and I can't really recommend it.

Unfortunately, I can't locate a trailer for House Of The Yellow Carpet, but here's a really boring 1960's ad for carpeting. It's only slightly less boring than bone folders.


Jake Gyllenhaal gives a remarkable performance as a manipulative, opportunistic sociopath who becomes a crime scene videographer in this gripping thriller. Losing 20 pounds for the role in order to convey a 'hungry coyote', Gyllenhaal's wild, haunted eyes echoes his breakout performance in Donnie Darko. Instead of portraying a damaged, socially awkward teen, Gyllenhaal's gaunt face conceals an amoral, dangerous predator whose weapon is a video camera. I was particularly impressed by the masterful Mexican restaurant scene, where a slick, reptilian Gyllenhaal threatens a veteran TV producer (Rene Russo in a sublime, nuanced performance) unless she begins a physical relationship with him. Gyllenhaal spouts lengthy, encyclopedic dialogue about the business of television and the ups-and-downs of Russo's character's career while implying he'll stop supplying her with lurid, ratings-grabbing crime footage, and Russo face is filled with simultaneous emotions of admiration, disgust, fear, resignation, and the startling realization that for once in her career she may not have the upper hand in a work relationship. Beautiful cinematography, an Academy Award-worthy screenplay, and an edge-of-your-seat police chase make Nightcrawler a haunting cinematic experience.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Brain Machine

Roscoe P. Coltrane stars in this sci-fi thriller where some vaguely sci-fi stuff happens, but thanks to an incoherent script and laughable editing, I'm not entirely sure what those vaguely sci-fi things were. A guy steals some files from some sort of scientific research center, then he runs through some brush wearing a lab coat and carrying a briefcase. It isn't suspicious at all. Then some people talk on phones. Get used to it, because it's going to happen a lot. Suddenly, a boom mic makes an appearance, and it cameos so often the film-makers should have given it an acting credit. Then someone offers someone else a bowl of nuts. I'm not sure why. Suddenly, some abstractly painted walls start closing in on some research subjects, and they seem somewhat threatened by this. I'm not sure why. Then someone takes off their Keds to do a little electrical work. After some not-so-special special effects the film ends, and I don't recall seeing any brain machines at all. They probably should have called this film The Boom Mic, but I don't think anyone would want to see a film called that.