Monday, September 15, 2008

Brass City Brew Fest '08

When I heard that a local event would supply over 250 beers for sampling over a 4 hour period, I immediately ordered some tickets. This was the Brass City Brew Fest in Waterbury, CT this past Saturday. My only regret is that it was only 4 hours...I would have preferred 4 days with all the brews available.

We arrived on the scene, an outdoor park in downtown Waterbury, about a half hour in advance, only to watch the line quadruple in size. Good thing...because we were able to get into the exclusive Belgian tent right away to get things started. A tent full of what was probably every Belgian beer available in the U.S. and then some was like Christmas morning. Here's an SAT analogy for you though:

The appeal of the In-Bev table : Belgian tent ::
The appeal of the Anheuser-Busch table : Domestic tents

Appropriate considering the recent purchase of Anheuser Busch by In-Bev...but sorry, in a tent full of Belgian beer that I've never tried, or even heard of, I'm not going to sample Hoegaarden. The two best tables in my opinion came from Belukus Marketing and Wetten Importers (probably because they both also had the most selection). Probably the most satisfying sample that I had all day came from Wetten Importers: the Gueuze lambic. I also learned that it's pronounced "lam.BEEK," rather than how it's spelled. I've had a handful of fruit lambics before: kriek (sour cherry), frambois (raspberry) and pomme (apple) to name a few, but this was a lambic without any fruit addition: very sour and quite delicious. Unfortunately, the closest I can come to purchasing some of it is through a petition that I signed for a local supplier to sell it.

Outside of the Belgian tent, I would have liked to have gotten to sample more of the domestic/int'l brews, but that's not to say I was not satisfied. Some highlights included:
  • The Moo Thunder Stout from Butternuts Brewery in NY (almost entirely because of its name but the beer was pretty damn good too...unsurprisingly, they have an amusing website). Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to sample the arguably better-named brew, "Tommyknocker Butthead Doppelbock."
  • Although I prefer beer, A UK brewery that I'm familiar with for its famous Oatmeal Stout, Sam Smith, was pouring their organic cider which was very tasty.
  • I was very pleased to try the very heavy "Wee Willy Scotch Ale," from the recently visited local brewery, New England Brewing.
Among many other brews (and some delicious chili), the day was exciting and very satisfying. The selection was better than any other brew fest that I have attended, so I look forward to similar events and of course...Brass City Brew Fest '09.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

New NFL Rules

The summer heat has died down...children and college kids have returned to and chips are flying off the shelves...that's right's time for some football. With a new season comes a few new rules, a few of which I think will make for some great games:
  • Defensive Helmet Radios: QBs have had radios in their helmets so that coaches can easily communicate with them between plays, which has worked out very well. Now, coaches can communicate with the other half of their team: the defense. One defensive player will be allowed to have a radio in their helmet now, which I think is a great idea. Defense needs to communicate with the coaches just as much as the offense.
  • Reviewable Plays: These obviously are nothing new but there have always been restrictions on the types of plays that can be reviewed. A few types of plays have been added to the roster now: field goals, extra points, and illegal forward handoffs. These types of plays are usually easy to call and therefore are rarely questionable (especially extra points), but we've all seen a FG kick that called for atleast a few replays. It's good to know they can be reviewed now.
  • Second Half Coin Toss: This is an interesting new option that teams will now have for the coin toss: they can defer to kick or receive in the second half now. Another addition in favor of the defense.
  • Facemasks: The 5-yard penalty for incidental facemasks has been eliminated; all penalties will be 15-yards now. Also, officials will be on the lookout for offensive players grabbing defending facemasks.
  • Forceout Rule: This is by far my favorite addition/revision to the NFL rules. Previously, the rule for sideline/endzone passes was that a receiver must get 2 feet inbounds before stepping out...unless the officials call a "forceout," meaning they believed the receiver could have had 2 feet inbounds but a defender "forced" them out. This rule is now eliminated. Regardless of any forcing, a receiver must get 2 feet inbounds. I love this because when this rule existed, it forced defenders to sometimes make snap decisions to often pull back from touching a receiver, hoping that they would not get 2 feet down. Now defenders will not have to restrain themselves - it eliminates a touch of ambiguity that is often decided in reviewed plays.
So let the games begin. Living in CT again, I'm going to have to deal with occasional conflicts when the Eagles are playing at the same time as one of those damn NY teams...thank God for satellite-providing sports bars.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

3D Movies

You would think 3D technology would be a dead one considering how long it's been around - apparently the earliest confirmed 3D showing to a paying audience was in 1922. But how much of it have you seen? Why hasn't it been utilized more?

3D films saw a short boom (more like a light tap) in the 50's. The decline was understandably due to the labor-intensive maintenance - back then, two projections had to be reeled at the same exact time, often requiring two projectionists, who usually didn't take their jobs too seriously. If they were not synced properly, it would become hard to watch, causing headaches. There were subtle revivals in the 60's and 70's, but a larger revival came in the 80's when IMAX was introduced. However, there have not been as many 3D productions as you would expect since then, mostly because IMAX theaters are understandably sparse.

The most recent development in 3D technology is called REAL D, most of which has been utilized by Disney productions - and it's a lot better than it was. You may have noticed a few recent releases such as Beowulf and Journey to the Center of the Earth. Still, though, this technology has mostly been used toward animated or children's films (or nature features). Of course, it can't really appropriately be applied toward certain genres. Noone really needs to see The Godfather in 3D. But in its previous successes, 3D was used for more than children's films. It was used mostly for horror, suspense and sci-fi features for obvious reasons - 3D can enhance shocking moments.

3D won't take over the normal film experience. There are only so many theaters nationwide that are or will be equipped for showing 3D productions (note: The Cinema Buying Group just made a deal to bring 3D to about 1,000 small-theater screens). And selling 3D beyond the theater to a fraction of the success of DVD's is a long way off if at all - the 3D experience is intended for large theaters. Not to say it's not developing for home viewing - it is.

The advantage of many 3D features is that they can be re-released if they are seasonal (take The Polar Express for was released in 3D in 2004 but is still shown at most theaters around the holidays). Also, many big releases are being released in both regular format and 3D. Expect to see more 3D in the coming years - studios are talking more about the developed technology. Apparently atleast a dozen productions are expected in 2009.