Let’s Play Doctor

Five Things You Never Want to Hear Your Doctor Say

“Okay, I’m gonna just Google this and I’ll be right back.”

“Everything went great with your surgery. Damnedest thing though, I can’t find my watch. Ha, I’m sure it’ll turn up.”

“Well, what do you think it is?”

“Unfortunately, we ran out of lubricant yesterday.”

“Kevorkian was just ahead of his time.”

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Green Beer Isn’t Just for St. Patrick’s Day Anymore

Today, I’d love to speak about one of the grandfathers of American craft brewing. Arguably, it’s the one brewery that can be said to have started the craft brewing movement in the US. I speak, of course, of California’s own Sierra Nevada Brewing. I feel that they started as every microbrewery should start – by excited and invested homebrewers who want to make better beer rather than money (I’m looking at you, Rouge). Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is perhaps the original American microbrew, being made since 1980, and it’s still the second-most sold craft beer in the US. Their accessible beers have helped introduce a lot of people to craft brews through the years, while still impressing snobby beer folk like myself. To this day their beers are extremely consistent, high quality, and made via traditional methods.

However, Sierra Nevada’s legacy goes far beyond impressive beers and commercial growth. Sierra Nevada and Ken Grossman (owner), have taken great strides to be an example for the future of “green” brewing. They’ve been a pioneer of sustainability, taking steps to reduce their energy consumption, waste, and environmental impact while brewing. For example, they have installed over 10,000 solar arrays, producing 1/5 of the power required to run their brewery. They also installed hydrogen fuel cells, which cleanly produce close to 50% of their energy needs. On top of that, they go to great lengths to reduce the amount of energy their brewing operation uses, from having more windows for natural lighting, increasingly efficient freezers, to something as simple as having their cardboard packaging piggyback in on the backhaul trucks from their beer distribution–cutting out trips from the brewery by fuel-guzzling trucks. They are mindful of their waste as well, putting everything they can to good use. Their spent grain is sent to cattle ranchers for feed, their water is sent to their own treatment plant to be reused for their own farming or brewing processes, and even their spent yeast is used to make ethanol. All told, 99.5% of their brewing waste is kept out of landfills and reused. They were named the Green Business of the Year by the EPA in 2010 in response to all the environmentally charged adaptations they’ve made to their brewing processes.

Sierra Nevada has also been instrumental in kick starting the growing trend of brewers growing their own crops for brewing. They now have 8 acres of hop fields, as well as a 30 acre barley field and a one acre garden for their restaurant. They use these home-grown ingredients in their beer, as well as releasing a seasonal beer using only ingredients grown on site. It’s a trend that is admirable and ambitious, and with the considerable cost of setting up a farm on site, it’s even more impressive that a brewery would be willing to take on such a venture. With the growth of the craft brewery industry, and how homogenized much of it has become; it’s exciting to have one of the first modern microbreweries continue to innovate, think outside the box, and push the envelope every year. With their sales and success, it would be very easy for them to sit back and just make their core products, but instead they have made themselves an example to other breweries of how to stay interesting, how to be better to the environment while still being profitable, and how to be more than just another generic microbrewery, making generic beer, to be drank by generic people. Prost to Ken Grossman and Sierra Nevada’s staff for that.

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The Living Wake Review

“Binew was the first to attribute personalities to numbers; something thought to be stupid only years earlier.”

The Living Wake stars unappreciated and unrecognized genius, K. Roth Binew on his last day of life as he has been “diagnosed with a grave and vague disease.” He is accompanied by his man, chauffeur, servant, Mills. Mills is his best, and only friend, besides belligerence and alcohol, and with his last day on Earth tightly scheduled, these two set out to fill the tasks of the day, handing out invitations to the evening’s wake along the way.

Among the tasks of this quixotic dilettante is swearing off the war with his neighbor. He drugs a prostitute to get out of paying her 50 bucks, attempts to get his unpublished books on to the shelves of the public library, and even tricks the town Liquorsmith into trading him the man’s own glasses for a bottle of his finest bourbon before meeting with his childhood nanny, who is some 50 years his senior, for a make out session under the watchful eye of her husband…in the woods.

Binew is a mildly deranged and touched genius. Mills is also a poet, and his authorized biographer who tracks much of what Binew says throughout the day. He even sketches the scene with the prostitute for posterity, hence the 50 bucks since Mills watched.

Binew is not a great writer, dancer, performer, painter, though he has worked it up in his mind that the world must appreciate him in his passing, and that his works must live on in the annuls of history with the greats of literature and art. He is oddly poignant at times in the film, but for the most part everything said and uttered is hilarious and hyperbolic.

Binew himself is as odd a character as the setting of the film. It is a nondescript town set in a nondescript time. Seriously, I really have no idea where or when this film happens. Characters, including Mills, have accents from varying regions of the world. I only assume America because at the end of the film, Binew mentions he has a crisp $20 bill strapped to his genitals for anyone with the gumption to go after it once he is dead.

I love the entire film. Often, I will try a film out, and as I press play I think, “You’ve got 15 minutes to impress me.” With as many films as I watch, I get to experimenting with the obscure, as this film is, and I can be disappointed. I challenge you this: If the first five minutes of this film does not get you hooked, then you need to not only turn it off, but run from your TV. This film is not for you. This is like if Don Quixote and Juno got together with The Royal Tenenbaums at funeral for a Woody Allen film. It’s just really weird.

It’s not a bad thing. I loved every minute. I loved the boisterous and peacockish nature of K. Roth. I loved Jim Gaffigan as his father with cameos throughout. I loved the random thoughts and almost retarded waxings of Binew. I loved the relationship between Mills and K. Roth, and even loved the shit out of the two music numbers, one in the middle and the last just in the closing minutes of the film.

It’s a film that does not take itself seriously, but in the best way. I feared that moment where the movie just got a little too serious and touching, taking me out of the amazing world that had been constructed for me, but it never came. I feel like the writing of this was a competition for the most extravagant and eccentric ramblings they could think of. Pub wisdom and philosophy. Trying to achieve falling just short of genius, which in itself created a film that for me is genius.

It can be a bit slow to many I am sure, but it is all dialogue and subtleties in the acting that drive this film. Setting and brilliantly written dialogue. This film is unendingly quotable.

A few fun facts: This film was made released in 2007 to the tune of $500,000 and made just under $3,000 opening weekend to one screen. Don’t worry, two months later it had made just over $12,000. Whew, it could have been a flop.

I highly recommend this film if you like some of the film mash-ups I suggested. For me, it can be a cartoonish and garish look in to one man’s hope to be remembered when he is gone, while it might be the crazed and drunken ramblings of a hopeless nobody for the purpose of his own ego and pipe dreams of being someone who created and lived and didn’t just pass on as one of the billions who were just swallowed up. This one hits a little close to home, but damned if I don’t love this movie.

“Oh, majestic goat. Die quietly on your stake, and trust your throat will bleat on our plates. Oh, majestic goat. have faith your surrender will sate our tummy-boats, will feed out luncheon splendor. Oh, Majestic goat.”

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