Inside Man directed by Spike Lee

Cover Art for Inside Man DVDIMDb link

Sometimes I watch a movie because I want to think.  Sometimes I want to just have fun.  Inside Man was this week's pick for nonthinking.  I watched it with some close friends and I am sure that the audience affected my opinion.

Seeing Spike Lee produce a fun movie was a fresh switch from his usual heavy topics.  The only heavy moment was when a Sikh had been detained for questioning and was robbed of his turban.  He could not even focus on the line of questioning because his head was exposed.  It was interesting to me because it was akin to asking a woman to be questioned while topless, but the officers either did not understand or wanted to use the disctraction as a sort of truth serum.  As a teenager, my mom barged in on me while I showered and asked me a question.  I was so shocked that I couldn't have fibbed if I wanted to!

Back to the movie.  It was written with scenes interspersed between past events, present events, and suspect questioning.  The cutting was not innovative; it just seemed like an episode of CSI.

The reason to watch a Bonnie and Clyde movie like this is to root for the criminal.  Similar to Heat, the conflict between the head of the police force and the head of the gang was the focus of the plot.  Who is more clever? Which person has the attributes that the writer and director deem to be worthy of granting success?  Well, I liked both Clive Owen's and Denzel Washington's characters, but the mental duel was not that suspenseful to me.

There was also a sequence regarding the personal history of one character.  The was a secret document and a big reveal.  At that point, I thought, "so what?"  It was just not the huge revelation I thought it would be.  Also, some of the big dialogue scenes had no reason to occur, so the writer found clunky reasons to stick two people alone in a room.  I didn't buy the setup and in most cases the dialogue wasn't that intriguing either.

It sounds like I have a ton of reasons to indict this movie, but I enjoyed watching it.  The acting performances were all excellent.  It was different enough from the usual but still not overly heavy.

[rate 3]

Beer, beer, everywhere…

…but not a drop to drink!

As of last night, I racked the last beer into the keg. There are twenty gallons of fresh, malty, yummy beer and the urge to tap them early is hard to stop! I will say that as I racked all four, I took a hyrdometer reading and tasted them to ensure no batches were ruined. Now, I probably COULD have had one tiny sip of each, but they were so good I had a tad more. None is carbonated yet so I was tasting warm, flat beer and it was still good!!!

The only disappointing brew was the Scottish ale. It has lost the raw oaky character and is now very smooth, but it tastes too watery. Like a Michelob Ultra Amber: not offensively bland but still but blah. All kegs except for the Oatmeal Stout are force carbonating at room temperature. I had a heated argument (with a non-brewer I might add) regarding whether beer should be stored cold. I think I'll post on the forums to see if anyone knows.

Why Carlton is Fantastic

  1. cgb_and_knh.JPGHe knows everything about computers and shares it willingly with everyone who asks.  But not in a snotty way.
  2. He set up our Sonos music player for the audiophile in me.
  3. Pet songs.  Custom songs for each pet, sung to the tune of eighties hits.
  4. He brought me flowers for no reason yesterday.
  5. He loves my bratty little doggie even though she’s not macho.
  6. He loves my bratty little self!
  7. Everything he does is done perfectly or not at all.
  8. He puts the car keys on top of my coffee cup he’s prepared for me so I don’t forget the coffee.  Or the car.  Or my head (I’m really sleepy in the morning).
  9. Even though he SO doesn’t understand my nerdy hobbies or my artistic angst, he supports me 100% and even feigns interest.  How many gamers come home to a spouse who asks if their character did well?
  10. He’s spent hours trying to find the right car for me, even though I’m totally flighty about it.
  11. He likes to dress well because he knows I like it.  Now THAT is love.
  12. I can take him to a party full of people he doesn’t know and he shines.  He’s not stuck to my elbow and hating every minute.
  13. When he hugs me his arms wrap all the way around me because he’s so tall.
  14. He is one of the kindest people I know, and kindness is underrated in our society.


Sure looks like burning art!I found out about this event from a friend.  It's not her thing, but after the disappointing Taste of Mass Ave, she wanted me to have a chance to support my local art community.  I'm hoping to spend some introspective time (and some extroverty, dancing time) at the one-night-only event!

The website looks like they borrowed liberally from Burning Man, but is it so wrong for Indianapolis to be where the tentacles of art stretch?  I'm really excited to go.  The artist who painted my cafe painting (Indiana Landscape by Quincy Owens) will be there, as will other local artists.  I will let you know if it lives up to the hype!

Light me and I'll burn for you
And the love song never stops

D’Vine a Wine Bar Indianapolis Review

I don’t know why it took me so long to post this wine tasting.  It’s been trapped on my hard drive for months!

I went to D’Vine a Wine Bar because of its emphasis on wine tasting.  With so many wines available by the glass, it was easy to focus on the wine.  The atmosphere was trying too hard to look like a modern wine bar.  There is some pedestrian wine art on the walls.  I don’t know why it irks me when the art is so obvious, but it does!  (Look, we like wine!  We're about wine!  We're classy!)

The club chairs are very comfortable for relaxing and enjoying wine; however, the round tables are FAR too small.  One wine flight is four glasses; if there are two flights being tasted, nothing else fits on the table and it’s precarious to choose a glass in the middle.  If one orders an appetizer, forget it: it has to be held in one’s lap.  It’s too awkward.  So here’s what I tasted:

White Flight
Lagaria Pinot Grigio- Venezie: This is what I have come to expect from Pinot Grigio: light, crisp, lemony.  The nose is also predictably chalky.  Not a bad wine, but not remarkable.
Is this label right? It says King Estate.King’s Ridge- Pinot Gris- Oregon: Following the Lagaria, this wine was bolder and fruitier.  It had a peach-like roundness and soft lime zest finish.  Tasty with good balance.
TrimbachTrimbach Pinot Blanc- Alsace: This wine won the white flight.  Interestingly, flavor names did not spring to mind for this one.  Modifiers included “elegant” and “smooth.”  Clean- but not crisp.  Subtle- but not boring.  I can’t put my finger on it.  But I definitely like it.

Red Flight
ErathErath Pinot Noir- Oregon: Soft and subtle.  This wine shows its youth in its light, unconcentrated color.
Au Bon Climat- Santa Barbara: Again, a young, new-world wine that is what I’d call a porch wine: easy to drink but not terribly memorable either.  I have a bottle at home because this type of wine often appeals to non-wine drinkers.  I think a couple of years of cellaring could improve the complexity.  JerikoI like the label because it looks like I might have made it on my own laser printer; the stuff IN the bottle is more important than a beautiful OUTside.  I didn’t realize how much I liked it until I realized I was going back to this glass for sip after sip.  This wine wins the red flight.
Jeriko- Mendocino: this wine tasted like carmelized nuts to me with a bourbon taste on the second sip and a slightly harsh finish.  I think the oak overpowers the fruit and the wine is not as balanced as I’d hoped.

Not part of a flight:
Gary FerrelGary Ferrel Redwood Ranch Sauvignon Blanc- Sonoma: Wow!  I lifted this glass and smelled an explosion of tropical fruit.  Mango, papaya, and a good dose of pineapple exuded from the glass.  The oaking was clean but flavorful.  There was some sweetness, but it was not cloying.  I would recommend this wine with dessert- maybe vanilla ice cream with a habanero-tropical fruit salsa. Yum.  This was my favorite of all of the wines and I savored every sip I took from the glass.  This is the wine that converted me to liking whites.

There was an unforgivable sin committed by the staff.  The sweet, attractive server was attentive but knew nothing about wine.  Nothing.  Barely knew red from white, didn’t know what was available, couldn’t name a wine grape at all.  She had to go fetch the bartender who was better but not great.  He knew a few wines but nothing about food pairings.  Two of the wines on the menu were unavailable but neither of them knew it until I requested them.  There was no sommelier in the building at that time; I’m not sure if one was on staff.  I’m not complaining about a cute server: it’s better for business.  But there are plenty of attractive people who know something about wine.  It told me that the management was not so interested in the wine experience and more concerned about immediate sales.  What the management doesn’t realize is that an impeccable wine experience leads to loyalty leads to long-term sales.

I will go to D’Vine again because of the wine selection, but everything else needs work.

Atmosphere: [rate 3]
Beer Selection: not rated
Wine Selection: [rate 4]
Food: [rate 3]
Service: [rate 2]

A Message to all My Lurkers

Statistics are Fun!OK, so I'm loving the webalizer stats for my website.  As evidenced by my earlier weight loss graphs, I love to measure useless info.  So here it is.

My site has an average of 600-700 hits daily.  But hits are cheap and they could be anything, such as some moronic 'bot trying to post spam on my blog.  So I look mostly at the visits.  The bar graph shows total visits and total unique sites; the "2067" is the maximum number of visits I've had in one month and is the top line of the graph.  I average 40 or 50 unique visits to my site, especially the blog portion.  Over the course of a year, that's a staggering 17,000 visitors!

I'd like to pat myself on the back for my cracklin' good website, but I have a sinking feeling that it's mostly bots.  If it isn't, then it begs the question:I Love Graphs!


If you read my Gen Con post, you know how I love to learn about new people.  Why do you like my site?  Why do you lurk on my blog?  Submit a comment to this post, if you dare.  Regular contributors need not comment.  I promise that if you don't want the comment published I won't make it publicly viewable.    I just want to know whooooo are yoooo…..

John Mayer and Sheryl Crow at Verizon Wireless Indianapolis

Sorry it’s out of Focus!A friend of mine is a huge John Mayer fan, so she asked Carlton and me to go to a concert with her. At the last moment she could not go but begged us to go, have fun, and report back about the show. So here goes:

The opener was Mat Kearney. I sort of recognized the name but didn’t recognize the music until the last song, “Nothing Left to Lose.” He was very good but I only caught a couple of songs. His speaking voice- and occasionally his singing voice- sounded exactly like Dave Matthews, in tone and in inflection. (As an aside, this is a Radio Now-style artist who could have been a perfect fit for the Taste of Mass Ave).

This was a double-header concert with two headliners, and Sheryl Crow was first. We groaned, wishing she had been second so we could leave the show early. There was another couple with us who had similar thoughts. However, once she was onstage, Sheryl delivered a really fun show. I know all the words to most of her popular songs and it was fun to singe and dance with friends. There were some high school kids beside us and it was fun to watch them and reminisce…especially the one girl who reminded me of me: too much energy and melodrama for her own good. Anyway, Sheryl’s set list included mostly her popular songs and her guitar playing was pretty good. She hit a couple of bad notes, but her singing isn’t her forte anyway; her lyrics have a lot of truth and interesting perspective. One song, If it Makes You Happy, reminded me of my time in Memphis and of paging my best friend at 2AM over the speakers at work, playing the song at full blast. Ah, youth. I remember a time when I thought it was OK to use the PA for fun!

Then, some boys started teasing that high school version of me and she started crying. I told Carlton, “now she DEFINITELY reminds me of me!” He encouraged me to talk to her to console her…so I did. I put my arm around her, told her she reminded me of me, and she and her friends all hugged me. Within 30 seconds, the tears were gone and the singing had resumed. Oh yeah, that was mini-me! Then I realized I’m twice her age. Time flies. “It’s not having what you want/it’s wanting what you’ve got.”

After a brief break, John Mayer took the stage. I was immediately impressed. From the opening note, it was clear that some amazing musicians were on stage. Like a president can be judged by the cabinet (s)he chooses, a solo artist can be judged by the quality of the musicians surrounding him/her. There was a guitar solo by one of the John Mayer Trio that make me stop dancing and just listen. His style was clear and crisp. In contrast, another musician (bass) had a solo that was just as technically accurate but displayed a completely different style: smooth and full of soul. He took the song and inserted his own brand of cool.

The teenagers were a little annoying during John Mayer; several of the boys were so interested in dancing with the girls that they inconsiderately bumped into us repeatedly (despite the expanse of open lawn space). They were also pretty crass and inconsiderate of everyone around them. Youth is wasted on the young.

We also saw Dancing Man from the OAR concert! Sometimes being on the lawn provides some crazy comic relief.

He dances with some random girl! He dances among the litter and the crowd!

Mayer is hilarious and at ease on the stage. He forgot the lyrics to “My Stupid Mouth” and tried to ad lib. He laughed and tried to have us help, but he just segued to a different song and ended up with a guitar solo. At the end of what could have been an embarassingly bad flub, Mayer joked, “wow, that was my first ever rock medley.” It speaks to his guitar abilities that he made it sound like every mistake was on purpose. He continued on and delivered the best performance I’ve ever seen him do. Right around the “Daughters” era, he could have stooped to bubblegum pop forever, but he, he took the road less traveled by.

What a great show.

No Flavor at the Taste of Mass Ave

taste_of_ma.jpgI went to a street festival called “Taste of Mass Ave.” I’ve always like Massachussetts Avenue for its galleries, eateries, and for the feel.

Downtown Indianapolis proper- the blocks of Meridian between Market and Georgia- is a fun place. It has a lot to do but most of the featured places center around sports, shopping, and chain restaurants. Mass Ave offers more one-of-a-kind shops including fun galleries with the artist’s studio attached; clothing stores with tons of different designs; Indianapolis restaurants that use fresh, local produce in their menus. It shows that Indianapolis doesn’t have to import everything from other locales.

So when I heard about the event, I really wanted to go. I find that I am inspired as an artist when I visit local galleries. The eclectic feel of Mass Ave sparks my creativity.

I was disappointed from the beginning. The problem was that the event was sponsored by a local station, Radio Now 93.1, whose mix of music is hardly eclectic. I enjoy the station when I want to hear the latest pop song or if I need a retro hip-hop fix. The station also plays STUPID songs like Grillz and the equally lyrically challenged, pointless Shoulder Lean. The music being played was more along the lines of the latter. Radio Now didn’t consider the audience at all. The only really cool part of the music was a DJ mixing while two artists demonstrated graffiti art. The artists had amazing style; the one on the left was basically just doing a fancy tag, while the one on the right did a graffiti-style charicature of a sad man. I wanted to buy it, but it doesn’t quite fit my house. I was really hoping to see more art demonstrations and performance art, maybe even something interactive.

So there was a group of people who wanted to hear Radio Now-style music and were nonplussed by the open galleries. There was another group of people who wanted to see local art and taste food from local restaurants, but couldn’t stand the music. If Radio Now had played some good crossover music they could have had a much better turnout. The food was overpriced (of course) and the beer was $4 for a crummy domestic. I expected a Taste of Mass Ave to have fun beer selections. Some food stands offered wines, but only one or two types. I saw a lot of people milling around, unsure what to think or what to do.

norman_shiraz.JPGAfter I cruised the art galleries and talked to some artists, I ended up leaving the festival to go sit in the Metro and have a drink while I waited for my friend Amy to show. By the time she arrived, I saved her the $5 entrance fee and we headed to Scholar’s Inn and had a bottle of wine with a couple of friends. The wine, by the way, was Greg Norman Shiraz 2002. The blackberry fruit led to vanilla warmth, slowly melting to creamy smooth tannin in the finish. The Cab percentage gave a hint of boldness, but it was more like strength, not overpowering pungency. I thought it was well-balanced and best drunk without food; it was somewhat mellow (like a lot of Shiraz). It couldn’t cut through the fat of the bread and butter I had with it.

All in all, I did go out to Mass Ave whereas I would have stayed at home. However, Taste of Mass Ave has a lot of work to do to distiguish it from other festivals.

My Hair Looks Like a Maribou Stork

I feel pretty, oh so pretty...This picture pretty much sums up how I'm feeling today.  Don't I look pretty?  I stayed awake late to watch the season opener of the Colts versus the Giants.

What I saw of the Colts was a pretty good team.  Pretty good doesn't go to the Superbowl, though.  The offense had no running game; I saw plenty of short carries where Edgerrin James would have pirouetted and gained five more yards.  The quarterback protection was pretty good but with zero running game the team will not make it as far as they could.

My brother commented that the Colts were lucky that it took the Giants three quarters to realize we had no running game.  Of course, every other team this season can just watch the tape.  Harrison will continue to make beautiful catches of beautiful passes, Clark will be pretty good, but that's about it for the offense.

Defensively, Freeney was a nonfactor.  Because I am not the sports nut my brother is, I didn't realize how many key defenders we lost in the off season.  Freeney may draw double coverage still, but there is no one to pick up the slack and make a run for the quarterback.  Eli Manning only really had to hurry on one play.

Side note: my "insights" during the game led my brother to call me Leslie Visser.  Eep!  I'm terrible!

So anyway, I'm groggy and crabby and my favorite team won the season opener, but I'm not happy about it.