Way Late Movie Reviews: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter
With a six year old and three year old in our house most of the movies we see these days involve talking animals and celebrity voice overs. I can’t even remember the last movie I watched in a theater that didn’t feature a corresponding Happy Meal promotion. My wife and I have been wearing out Netflix lately as network TV continues to slide into oblivion. I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of the season two disk of Justified last week when I opened the Netflix envelope to find Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. My wife had apparently performed some alterations on our Netflix queue. Ugh.
We sat down to watch the movie last Friday night. I had extremely low expectations and was just hoping that the concept and script were so over-the-top awful that I’d at least find some amusement.
I’m happy to report that Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter is not a total piece of unwatchable dreck. Imagine Lincoln meets American Psycho filmed in The Matrix. I’m not saying you should run out and rent it but it did provide an entertainment level somewhere between the Kardashians and Swamp People. As expected, you’ll need to suspend disbelief for about 100 minutes as Honest Abe wields an axe against his undead attackers. The movie makers played fast and loose with historical facts, and the major plot twist was ridiculously predictable, but there are worse ways to spend a Friday night in front of the boob tube (I’m looking at you ABC’s Splash!).Pin It Tweet
Sunday Brunch at Woodberry Kitchen
My wife and I headed out to the Woodberry Kitchen for brunch with some friends last Sunday. We typically try to get together for dinner around the holidays but kids and commitments often wreak havoc on our social calendars this time of year. A get-together that used to consist of dinner and a show morphed into just dinner a few years back and finally took the leap to brunch this year. In five years our December festivities will consist of hot chocolate and cheese Danish at a Royal Farms. I won’t complain. I love cheese Danish.
I’ll stop rambling now. I’d never been to the Woodberry Kitchen before but had heard great things. I looked over the brunch menu prior tour visit and was pleased to see the words pork belly, fritter, and flat bread used in abundance. The atmosphere is warm and inviting with lots of exposed brick and lumber. The wait staff was pleasant and welcoming. We had am 11:15 reservation and were seated immediately upon entering the restaurant.
Now for the important part; the grub. We ordered the Morning Flatbread for the table. It features a large flatbread covered with sausage, potatoes, farm fresh eggs, cheddar, and caramelized onions. The flatbread was wonderful. The four of us make quick work of our morning appetizer. The Sunday brunch menu also features a butternut squash flatbread is at the top of my “must try” list for our next trip. I ordered the apple fritter which at $5 is one of the least expensive items on the menu. It would be a bargain at twice the price. In fact, I’d go back to the Woodberry Kitchen just for the apple fritter. The glazed fritter was served hot and features a crunchy exterior with a moist interior that featured just enough apple. I followed the fritter up with a bowl of Oyster stew. The stew was excellent and featured a moderately thick creamy base and two types of oysters. I highly recommend the stew. I can’t attest to the deliciousness of the shrimp and grits but my wife loved the dish.
Brunch for my wife and I ended up costing around $80 (tip included) but the quality of the food and the atmosphere gave us a quality return for our money. There were about ten more menu items that we wanted to try which just means that we’ll have to go back. In fact, I could use one of those apple fritters right now.Pin It Tweet
York’s Sweetest Pint Tour was a Taste bud’s Dream
My wife and I went on the Sweetest Pint tour of downtown York, Pa. over the weekend. We’ve lived in York for about 8 years and we jumped at the chance to go on a pub crawl of the city’s new and wonderful brew pubs and tap houses. When we originally moved to York the only downtown destination of note was the White Rose Bar and Grill. The ballpark hadn’t been built and the Harp and Fiddle (now Maewyn’s)had not yet opened. In fact, shortly after moving to town we asked neighbors where the nearest farmer’s market was located. People told us to go to Eastern Market which is off of Market Street outside the city. We did a search of our own and found Central Market House, which is a local treasure and should be on a monthly hit list for all York County residents. The market has undergone a revitalization over the past few years and is now home to specialty food vendors, craftsman, fresh produce, organic products, etc.
Anyway, what I’m getting at is that York has changed a lot over the past 8 years. While some long-time residents may still be apprehensive about venturing into the city, transplants like my wife and I welcome the new shops and restaurants with open arms. The Sweetest Pint Pub Tour was a celebration of York City’s rebirth as a viable cultural destination.
The tour started at Central Market where we received a t-shirt, wristband, and were assigned to a tour group. Our group was the smallest with about 12 people. We left the market and made our way to Maewyn’s where we treated to Lancaster Brewing Company’s Shoe Fly Porter and bacon drizzled with chocolate. The chef came out to explain the pairing and why each item was selected. I didn’t hear much of his well reasoned response as I mowed through two bacon skewers and my Shoe Fly Porter sampler. The porter was absolutely terrific; sort of like a smoother version of Guiness. It went well with beer and bacon, but really what doesn’t go well with beer and bacon?
We then went to the Liquid Hero brewery across the street from the ballpark. It was my second visit to Liquid Hero and I must say that I love the place. Liquid Hero is just beer. If you’re hungry you can get a hot dog and bag of chips, but that’s about it. You’ll come for the beer and stay for the beer. Liquid Hero had us sample the Adam’s Stout and the Schweet Ale (which contains strawberry puree) and paired them with chocolate covered pretzels from a local pretzel maker. The beers were great and I’ll certainly be back.
We left Liquid Hero and headed to the White Rose for our third tasting. I honestly don’t remember the beer at White Rose because the food was so ridiculously, amazingly good. The beer was cold and wet, which was good enough for me. White Rose served us a cocoa braised short rib which was roasted for six hours. The ribs and accompanying mashers were covered in a chocolate demi-glaze made with the rib bones which were cooked for three days. I’m no culinary expert but this stuff was good. Like, why isn’t this on the menu good? The chef told us that the short ribs do occasionally appear on a specialty menu. I asked to be personally notified the next time they would be served. Luckily enough there’s an email notification list to be alerted to all menu changes. I gladly forked over my email and must now hope that the Nigerian guy with the $50 million doesn’t get a hold of my address again. It’s worth the risk for those short ribs.
We left the White Rose and went over to the Holy Hound Taproom. If you live in York, love good beer, and haven’t been to Holy Hound you’re wasting your life. The place opened over the summer at the corner of Beaver and Market and is a beer lover’s paradise. They paired a chocolate stout with some brownies that were out of this world. While there I ordered a Dark Horse Scotty Karate Scottish Ale. The beer was smooth and delicious though it’s 9.75% ABV didn’t do me any favors for the rest of the night.
We next headed to Bistro 19 on George St. My wife and I had only been to Bistro 19 once before and it was for dinner. I didn’t realize that they also featured live music, open mic comedy nights, and a thorough selection of beers. Scotty Karate was kicking in pretty hard at Bistro 19 and I don’t remember the names of the beer that they featured. The three dishes were all terrific; chocolate covered bacon, pumpkin mousse with chocolate chips, and seared ahi tuna with chocolate and raspberry sauce.
We ended our tour back where we started in Central Market. Mudhook Brewery had some tables set up for us and two beer and two dessert samples. Mudhook’s brew master explained the brewing process, showed us the equipment, and told us about the Belgian Ale he brewed just for the Sweetest Pint tour. The Belgian Ale was wonderful, as were the chocolate cupcakes prepared by Just Cupcakes. The Belgian Ale by Mudhook may have been my favorite beer of the night but it’s not on the regular brewing rotation, yet. BTW, Just Cupcakes has the best damn cupcakes in York. If you haven’t tried them head down to Philadelphia Street post haste and order a Boston Creme cupcake. You’re welcome.
The evening sadly drew to a close as the pint glasses went dry and our babysitters looked longingly at the clock. I don’t know if the Sweetest Pint was a financial success but it was a fun night on the town and a taste bud’s nirvana. Where do we reserve our tickets for next year? And White Rose, don’t be a stranger, those short ribs are calling to me.Pin It Tweet
Nationals Park is Big on Quirks, Low on Charm
I made the trek down the BW Parkway last Thursday to see the Cubbies battle the Nationals. It was my first chance to see young stars Anthony Rizzo and Bryce Harper in action, as well as Nationals Park. I left with a mixed review of the ballpark, some unanswered questions, and a confounding experience at a concession stand.Pin It Tweet
I reviewed Dirk Hayhurst’s latest book Out of My League for SpliceToday.
I read Dirk Hayhurst’s The Bullpen Gospels last spring and loved the book. It’s an easy read and broken into short, entertaining chapters. Hayhurst tells the tale of a minor league pitcher desperately hanging onto his big league dream. What no doubt started as a journal documenting varying degrees of self-doubt and bullpen dick jokes evolved into the minor league version of Jim Bouton’s classic Ball Four.Pin It Tweet
So, I almost cried at the end of Free Willy.
Let me explain. It wasn’t the brilliant acting of Michael Madsen that nearly moved me to tears. It wasn’t Willy’s struggle to survive either. It was the reaction of my five year old son that almost had me bawling like an overgrown baby.
My father-in-law gave my kids Free Willy on dvd as an Easter gift. I thought my son would enjoy it. He’s fascinated by sharks, and a killer whale is about the next best thing. My two year old daughter is pretty much only interested in Dora the Explorer and jumping off the furniture. I didn’t think the story of the great fish, mammal, whatever, would really hold her interest.
I put the movie on for them a few weeks back as my wife and I prepared dinner. Alright, she prepared dinner and I set the table and ran interference to keep the kids from climbing into the oven. Anyway, the kids started watching the movie, which starts with Willy being captured and taken to some sort of amusement park. I had never seen the movie despite the fact that it was released in 1993. I guess I was never in Willy’s target demographic, until now.
The beginning was a little shaky. Lots of questions were fired at me about why the men were being mean to the whales. I didn’t know what as about to happen so I kept the remote in my pocket just in case I had to stop the action when the water turned to crimson. We paused for dinner and then the four of us watched the rest of the movie together.
It was a better movie than I ever imagined. I’m kind of prick when it comes to movies and music and tv shows. I always assume that if I haven’t seen it then it’s probably not worth seeing. It’s a character defect, but it’s mine so buzz off. It’s also the reason I’ve never watched a Harry Potter movie or read The Hunger Games.
The kids really got into the movie. The action in the last 20 minutes or so is about as intense as the kids are equipped to handle. My son was verbally threatening the douches from the amusement park as they chased after the wayward whale. He was legitimately fired up which was pretty cool to see. His little sister generally follows his verbals clues so she joined in as well.
Near the end of the movie, when the kids were concerned that Willy might die and go to heaven, my son (who was sitting on my lap) turned to me and said “Daddy, if those guys ever made you go to heaven I wouldn’t let you go. I’d sit on you and hold on so you would have to stay here with me because I love you and you’re my favorite”. Thankfully he stopped there. Water welled up in my eyes as the little guy returned his focus to the screen. If he had offered one more word of undying devotion I would’ve lost it. The movie ended predictably but will always be memorable to me. I’ll be sure to have a box of kleenex on hand before we watch Free Willy 2.Pin It Tweet
From caped crusader to fridge invader.
I watched the movie Kill the Irishman one late Saturday night a few weeks back. The movie was almost great but on the verge of awful at the same time. I won’t go into much detail but the subject matter is terrific, Christopher Walken plays a major role, and there’s organized crime. Check it out. What really surprised me was the physical state of former leading man Val Kilmer. In Irishman Kilmer plays a middle aged, out of shape , sweaty, Mid-Western detective. And he plays it perfectly. I didn’t even realize it was Kilmer until about halfway through the movie when I suddenly said “That’s Val Kilmer. He’s a huge load.”
Kilmer has gone from heart throb to big slob, from Batman to Backfat man, from Iceman to The Fridge. Jeff Bridges thinks he’s let himself go. I was completely unaware of Kilmer’s demise. I checked his IMDB page and realized that I hadn’t seen a Kilmer film since Heat in 1996. Kilmer is now 53, another reminder of just how old I’m getting, and has every right to kick back and relax a bit. He may just want to mix in a piece of fruit and a brisk walk around the block once in awhile.Pin It Tweet
I took my Wife and kids to The Turkey Hill Experience on March 10th as part of my Wife’s birthday celebration. Though it sounds like the name of a hybrid barbershop quartet/classic hip hop group The Turkey Hill Experience is actually a family attraction based around the ice cream and teas produced by Turkey Hill. Think Hershey’s Chocolate World but with ice cream instead of chocolate.
I didn’t have such a great experience that I rushed to tell everyone that they simply must visit The Turkey Hill Experience. I also didn’t go around telling everyone to avoid the place like the plague. I guess the fact that it took me 11 days to offer up a halfhearted review tells you all you need to know.
I’ll start by saying that my family loves Hershey’s Chocolate World. We live about 30 minutes from Hershey and make several trips to Chocolate World every year. My five year old son adores the place. He likes riding in the “boats” as he calls them, the singing cows, the tubs of overflowing molten chocolate, and most of all he lives for the free sample that you’re handed at the end of the ride. In fact I’d venture to guess that left to his own devices he’d live at Chocolate World. I could see him fashioning a makeshift bed out of discarded Whatchamacallit wrappers, living off Almond Joy samples, and emerging in a few months as a preschool version of Jiminy Glick with cocoa tinged finger tips. Good thing he has parents.
The best thing about Chocolate World is that it is free! Sure, you could drop some benjamins if you go on a trolley tour, or go to the 3D show, or create your own candy bar, but if you’re just there for the ride and sample it is gratis.
So that’s what The Turkey Hill Experience was up against. The price of admission for our family of four was $32. What?!?! We entered the main exhibit area and were greeted by about a dozen placards explaining the history of the area, the founding family, and the company. I had a two year old hanging on my leg and a five year old desperately searching for a “free” sample of something, anything! We quickly scooted through, to my Wife’s chagrin.
We got in the sample line and each received a scoop of ice cream and a small cup of iced tea. The ice cream and tea were delicious. We sat and watched an interesting video of the ice cream manufacturing process. My son wondered aloud “Can we go see that?” Good question buddy. And no, $32 bought us a scoop of ice cream but no actual chance to see the process by which it is made.
We let the kids play in the ball pit and slides for a few minutes before bolting. We were out $32, an hour of our time, plus whatever the antibiotics to treat the latest case of ballpititis the kids had surely contracted was going to cost. If you have older kids (say 8-12) who can enjoy some of the more advanced activities The Turkey Hill Experience may be a suitable place to spend a rainy afternoon. If your kids are under seven I’d suggest alternative entertainment options unless you can’t resist the lure of the $32 ice cream scoop.Tweet
We took the kids to see The Lorax on Saturday afternoon as part of my Wife’s birthday celebration. I’m sure that at one time going to see a kids movie on her birthday would’ve sounded like the worst birthday ever, but two kids and five and a half years of parenthood change your perspective. As a family we were honestly looking forward to seeing The Lorax.
My son has a huge book of Dr. Suess stories that we read from several times a month. The Lorax is one of his favorites. He saw the commercial for The Lorax movie a few weeks ago and made no secret of his desire to see it. When we discussed plans for his Mom’s birthday going to see The Lorax was at the top of his list.
I was a bit concerned about the movie for a couple of reasons.
1. The product tie ins with the Mazda SUV seemed to be against the spirit of the story. I’m not an environmentalist but that association made me queasy. I could only wonder what additional product placements would be featured in the movie.
2. My two year old daughter scares pretty easily and I wasn’t sure how she’d take to the Once-ler.
The product placements weren’t really aggressive or any more noticeable than any other kids movie of recent vintage. The only one that really sticks out to me is Ted’s usage of an Uno, the one wheeled motorcycle/Segway I discussed a few days ago. The Uno was actually a perfect fit for the movie. It’s an electric vehicle so it passes the “green” test, plus it’s a silly futuristic looking contraption that fits perfectly within the world of Seuss.
The Once-ler was a bit more troublesome. We split up when we entered the theater, partly out of necessity and partly out of strategy. When we sit together my daughter constantly ping pongs from my Wife’s lap to mine, and vice versa. The theater was packed for the 3 PM showing so my Wife and son sat in one row and my daughter and I sat directly behind them. My Wife purchased a large popcorn/soda combo from the concession stand so it looked like we had mugged a Redenbacher on our way into the theater. The 47 pound bag of popcorn kept my daughter sufficiently occupied though there were a few occasions when she said that she was afraid “of that scary monster”. I assured her that the Once-ler was just an old man and that if she was afraid she could put her head on my shoulder. So she did, a few times. I’m not complaining. She’s usually a whirling ball of curls and attitude so any snuggle time is appreciated, even if it occurs in a movie theater with popcorn covering my lap. She’s asked about the “Grinch-ler” (despite numerous attempts to correct her) a few times since Saturday but hasn’t lost any sleep over it.
The Lorax is a good kids movie. The story is obviously adapted and manipulated in order to stretch it to feature length. A new villain was added, Ted has a love interest, and Danny DeVito’s role as the Lorax took a backstage to Ted (Zac Effron) and The Once-ler (Ed Helms). If I did have one complaint it would be that Ted’s inspiration to save the trees was because his hot neighbor Audrey basically said she would marry the guy who could bring her a real tree. Audrey had an interest in trees, Ted had an interest in Audrey, and the story took off from there. The movie is about Ted’s growth but at points you’re left wondering if you’re pulling for him to save the truffulas or get the girl. I won’t ruin the ending but you can probably guess what happens.
I’m sure there are some people who watched The Lorax with a much more critical eye and could write a dissertation explaining how the movie was a departure from Dr. Seuss’ timeless story. I spent much of the 90 minutes wrestling with a tireless toddler and a bag of popcorn the size of my first apartment so I was just pleased to leave the theater with a happy family who seemed satisfied and entertained. As we left the theater my son asked “Can we get The Lorax on DVD?” Judging from his reaction the movie was a success, both on the screen and in marketing efforts.Tweet
When I saw the poster in the movie theater for “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter” I assumed it was a either a joke or the latest opus from the Wayans Brothers. A little research revealed that “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter” is a new film produced by Tim Burton. The basic premise is that Abraham Lincoln discovers that vampires are plotting to take over the United States and he must eliminate them. Sounds reasonable enough. No, it sounds ridiculous but the trailer looks pretty cool. I’m not a fan of the recent obsession with all things vampires kicked off by the Twilight nonsense. However, Robert Pattinson’s rise to fame now seems like small price to pay in order to see Abraham Lincoln fight vampires in 3D.
Also, with any luck this will start a series of movies featuring past presidents fighting mythical creatures. I’d pay good money to see FDR vs Centaur, Herbert Hoover Unicorn Slayer, Taft vs Mothra, and a “Harry and the Hendersons” remake with a deranged Teddy Roosevelt stalking the lovable Harry.Tweet