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RecapHub Has Moved!

Looks like I’m kissing WordPress goodbye once again, since I’ve now purchased and acquired my own domain on Blogger.com.  I’ll be posting there from now on, so any of my few followers here can find me posting all future content there.  Here’s a link to the website.  Hope to see you there!

http://www.recaphub.com/

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Posted by on March 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Evan Williams Cinnamon Reserve Review

Cinnamon flavored alcohol seems to be slowly following in the footsteps of spiced rum; companies are beginning to spit their own takes out, bit by bit.  Goldschlager’s gone through somewhat of a surgence, we were treated to Fireball Whisky not too long ago, and even the latest offering from Malibu, Island Spiced, promises “caribbean rum infused with coconut, vanilla and a hint of cinnamon.”

And here we have Evan Williams, certainly no stranger to flavor-infused spirits.  They’ve already granted us affordable liqueurs in the form of Reserves (honey and cherry), each sharing their own bit of success.  Naturally, a new flavor has worked its way out of the distilleries and onto store shelves.  Cinnamon Reserve promises a “hot cinnamon taste” along with “a hint of fire and spice” and, if my time with Honey Reserve was any indication, one heck of a sticky, syrupy experience.

A picture of cinnamon churros with 2D flames is certainly eye-catching amidst aisles of black, white and brown labels.  The copper color of the full bottle proves to be misleading, as the spirit’s saturation quickly fades when poured, unlike the more consistent Honey Reserve.  On the nose there’s a definite cinnamon character (what a shock), though I can’t help but compare it to Fireball, which is far more forward.  It’s odd too, since Fireball is a cinnamon-infused whisky, while Evan Williams is merely a liqueur, so the bourbon-whiskey essence is played down.

If you gave me both Cinnamon Reserve and Fireball in a blind taste test without trying either beforehand, however, I’d have thought very differently.  Where a shot of Fireball tingles your mouth and taste buds like a tasty, spicy chicken wing, Evan Williams gives you a more straightforward cinnamon flavor with cordial and bourbon essence immediately on the finish.  More cinnamon briefly creeps back up, but it doesn’t stick around nearly long enough to leave a remotely strong impression.

Much like Crown Royal Maple, the cinnamon of Fireball felt like it was an actual part of the whiskey.  Yet with so much flavor, combined with a fairly tame amount of alcohol (66 proof), Fireball lacked the soul of a true whiskey.  What it offered instead was a rather refreshing experience, given the gimmicky premise.  Evan Williams, by comparison, wants to be a jack of all trades.  It wants to feed you the added flavor, but not so that cinnamon is the only thing it offers.  Sadly, the rest of the drink is not very worthwhile.  That lingering, syrupy character which Honey Reserve bathed in is present here, bringing out an experience that makes me suspect this stuff has high fructose corn syrup.  It doesn’t have this issue quite as bad as Honey Reserve, but without as much of a flavorful profile, it’s hard for me to be generous.

I hate turning this review into a comparison, but it’s damn-near inescapable.  Evan Williams have simply found themselves stuck on the backburner once again.  Honey Reserve was an ample supply of honey, but once considered alongside Wild Turkey’s American Honey, the lower price tag began to make even more sense.  Not that Honey Reserve was a bad product, it just didn’t have much of a place amongst vastly superior (Wild Turkey) and commendably different peers (Jack Daniel’s, Bushmills).  Cinnamon Reserve can at least enjoy the potential for more accessibility in recipes, though if my town is any indication, its not going to be the easiest bottle to find.  What we have here is a spirt that feels timid, afraid of giving us the flavor and experience touted on the very bottle.  It’s not a bad drink, per se, but when you can get a more authentic and fulfilling experience for literally the same price elsewhere, it’s tough to look at the glass half full.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2013 in Alcohol, Alcohol, Blog, Drinks, Review

 

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Olympus Has Fallen (2013) Review

Original review posted on IMDB, here.

If you’re looking for an action film straight out of the 90’s but stuck in the present day, you’ll arrive at Olympus Has Fallen. We’re initially led to believe that this might offer a story of personal redemption, when it’s in fact a rudimentary action flick with little purpose beyond entertaining the regular American viewer.

There’s nothing wrong with offering a film such as this, so long as its entertaining. And, thankfully, Olympus Has Fallen offers enough enjoyable and compelling moments to keep its viewers watching with some degree of interest. No, the characters are not compelling and far from fully developed, and that’s not necessarily the point. The point here is to keep the audience entertained and occupied, which is done sufficiently, if in an inconsistently effective manner.

Gerard Butler does what he has to, being the fairly routine action hero a la John McClane, which is a bit of a shame since the opening act alludes to so much more. But by the second half, just about all potential for actual exploration is cast aside. Aaron Eckhart is a likable actor in all of his performances, even in one as underplayed as this. There’s also a potentially strong predicament foreshadowed early on that could’ve been utilized to give the film a great edge, but it’s ultimately abandoned for the routine action movie wrap-up. Meanwhile, everyone’s favorite key player, Morgan Freeman, really seems bored in each scene, as if he’s only there to occupy the cameraman’s attention.

As you can probably guess, both the plot and characters are thin, with only implied potential separating the key players from even more routine movies (which isn’t saying much). The action and tension are where Olympus Has Fallen is left to shine, which it does during the time is plays. Looking back, however, it’s far easier to pick the movie apart. You’ll be entertained while watching it, but left banging your head shortly after leaving the theater.

Given the lackluster stream of movies released so far this year, Olympus Has Fallen is able to make enough room for itself. Taken into account with other action films, however, there’s little (if anything) to truly make it stand out. There’s a sense of identity crisis here, as the film is more or less lost in another time period and suggests more than it delivers. For my money, it’s decent popcorn entertainment, but not much else.

 
 

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Blue Bell Mint Cookies ‘n Cream Review (On The Ice Cream Informant)

Once again, Chad (aka The Ice Cream Informant) has featured a review of mine, this time of the new Mint Cookies ‘n Cream ice cream from Blue Bell.  The link to the review can be found here.

Here’s the original review, along with the images.

There are two things I can’t seem to tear myself from. Most recently, it’s been Blue Bell ice cream, despite my last two ventures being completely skippable. The other is mint-chocolate treats which, given my childhood obsession with mint chocolate chip ice cream, shouldn’t be too surprising. Maybe it’s more than mere coincidence then, that Blue Bell would come out with a Mint Cookies ‘n Cream flavor to adorn their gold rim.

Blue Bell already have a traditional Mint Chocolate Chip flavor, but now we’re tossing cookies ‘n cream into the mix. For some strange reason, the pint is even more scant on details than Rum Raisin was, which is to say it has no details at all. Only when I seek out Blue Bell’s web site do I find that it’s a “smooth mint ice cream combined with mint creme-filled chocolate cookies and semi-sweet chocolate chips.” Fine by me, because without such guidance I might’ve suspected the cookies to be completely mint flavored, which would be interesting in theory if boring in execution.
But we have an ice cream to devour here, and even with a trench on the edge, I’m ready for that mint scent to grace my tongue. I dig in and am greeted by a brief, initial stiffness that quickly gives way to a medium-light body. The mint flavor is decidedly tame, offset by plenty of chocolate chips and more than a few Oreo imitators. These range from little crumbs to smudges and even entire chunks. It’s nice to see that Blue Bell didn’t skimp out on the mix-ins here, because even though “mint” is the first word for this flavor, it’s the chocolate that steals the show. I think it’s a good decision, since the ice cream has just enough flavor to balance the experience and hold everything together.
Blue Bell had me worried for a bit. After two lackluster offerings, I really wanted to find something that would restore my faith. I figured something similar to my favorite flavor as a kid would be the perfect chance for me to truly praise them again. I’m happy to say this is the case, with two classic selections coming together for a little something new and old at the same time. And yes, I’m already missing that lovely, green pint.
Question of the Day: What was your favorite ice cream as a kid?
 
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Posted by on March 19, 2013 in Blog, Food, Ice Cream, Review

 

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Just Another Step (A Journal Entry)

I write personal journal entries whenever I have the time and can manage to put it down.  These come infrequently.  Like any journal, it’s a lot of personal thoughts and feelings, stuff I can’t possibly imagine sharing, much less on a public level.  But this latest journal entry is something I’ve been wanting to share.  It’s very expository and nothing will likely come of this post.  But for the few who might still notice what I have to offer, this is a piece which, though barely proofread and only just now written, is still very close to me.  No pictures, just the text and what I have to offer.  If you read it all then you should understand why.  If you don’t, no matter, I’ll just be back with what I already have.

I still can’t believe I’ve reached a point where I truly enjoy alcohol.  I can remember when I thought it should be done away entirely, all due to the hazards that come with it.  But now I see it as this incredible way of life in some ways.  The industry is daunting, albeit with no shortage of overly wacky creations, but you get that everywhere.  And the way I like to enjoy alcohol the most?  Cocktails.  It’s like food in how the right two (or more) ingredients can create something truly wondrous.  In a way, this is how I (and many others) got started drinking.  I hate to be another subject of the cliches, but my tolerance came with rum and Coke.  Before long, however, I was seeking different stuff.  Actually, scratch that, I wanted to try different stuff from the get-go, which is what I did.  Bacardi Oakheart, Devil’s Cut by Jim Beam, Jameson and Bailey’s, Captain Morgan Black, Jack Daniel’s Honey.  These were among my first forays into drinking, which has ultimately led to a still-developing appreciation for the individual beverages.  And while the last two of the aforementioned liquors made me realize just how tasty alcohol can be, it wasn’t until I repeatedly dipped into Jameson’s territory that I truly understood the integrity and complexity that comes with a single distilled beverage

As I said, mixed drinks and cocktails were (and still are) my means to enjoy drinks in social gatherings.  And after having Jameson mixed with Bailey’s, I thought “why not mix it with Monster Irish Coffee?”  As horrible an idea as that was, I’d still relive it before combining Jameson with, say, ginger ale.  In fact, before long, I came to find that Jameson doesn’t belong in any recipe.  There were two results I always got when mixing Jameson: the burn and alcohol would tear right through the rest of the drink, eradicating any and all enjoyment, or the combination would be so watered down and nasty that I might as well grab a low-end pack of beer.  It was around that point, after trying Jameson on its own, that I started enjoying the drink for what it was, learning that it’s one of those drinks that literally needs to be taken on its own.

If I mix Jameson with something, the repugnant results make it feel like the drink (Jameson) is saying “don’t mix (and ruin) me, enjoy me as I am.”  And when I do the true character and nature of Jameson comes through.  Nothing more than a bit of ice or a splash of water is needed.  So far, no other drink has come together with various flavors and characteristics which intrigue and impress me with each little sip.  Certain rums certainly offer the flavor and even an instantly satisfying experience, but they aren’t nearly as unique and ever-provoking as something like Jameson.

The experience of it all is like a mental journey, originating with my taste buds and sense of smell, two things I often feel like I live for. With that, having even a small drink of Jameson is like having an exchange with myself.  I want to be seen for who I am, not for how I mix with others.  I feel I have something different to offer, something many others may or may not have, and even I probably don’t know what.  There’s definition, but there’s also a lingering mystery and depth behind it all.  The key difference, however, is that I’m nowhere near a renowned and celebrated status, except on an extremely small and local level.  In that sense, Jameson is the Daniel Day-Lewis of alcohols, and I’m just one of the Lipnicki’s from The War, with Elijah Wood and Kevin Costner.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2013 in Blog

 

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Bang Energy Drink Review (Champagne Cola & Lemon Drop)

How many bad puns and play on words can you make with your favorite energy drink?  Unleash the Monster, Amped up, Party like a Rockstar, Alter My DNA.  Well guess what?  VPX has a new drink that’ll put all those to shame.  The designation: Bang.  Your choices: Lemon Drop and Champagne Cola.

Bang

Let’s keep track of just how many times I irrelevantly work a play on the word “bang”  throughout this review.

My co-workers touted this drink for some time, with one of them saying it made him feel like he could climb Mount Everest.  Bang me up, buddy, cause I’m game!  I suppose the upward bullet on the can is supposed to indicate how high you’ll feel.  What it doesn’t tell you is that the space between the bullet and the VPX logo is probably how close your body will get to a caffeine overdose.  Seriously.  Each can has 357 milligrams of caffeine, “more than three cups of coffee.”  To put that in even more perspective, an 8.46 ounce can of Red Bull has 80, while a full can of regular Monster has 160.  And somehow the drink has no calories, no fat, no sugar and, needless to say (and proudly stated on the bottle), “contains no fruit juice.”  Bada-boom, bada-BANG!

My first venture to the drink was with the Champagne Cola, which honestly sounds like something to cater to women.  Two sips into the can and I was already feel more kick than most energy drinks provide in their entirety.  Halfway through I could feel my body hitting the pinnacle of their now-overworked alarms.  Now I can tell people about how I got banged one day at work.

Champagne Cola

Somehow, even with all that caffeine, the drink is very clear.  What’s even crazier is that the taste definitely isn’t champagne or cola-like, but more like a light mix of Monster and the bubble gum flavor of Rockstar Sugar-free.  But like I said, this drink really banged me hard within the first 8 ounces, so I set the rest aside for later.  After I settled back down, I decided to rejoice myself, see if it would still provide a nice final kick.  Oddly enough, I was unaffected.  It was like all the caffeine came to me at once, which wouldn’t be too surprising.  I do like the way it tastes since it’s similar to that off energy drink flavor, but it’s less offensive.  On one hand, I can easily see myself choosing this flavor for a nice kick.  However, frequently seeking this much caffeine probably isn’t the wisest decision in the world.

Lemon Drop

Next we have Lemon Drop, which my co-workers have swarmed to.  One of them described it as tasting just like Sprite, and I can see why.  I’d say it’s closer to a Diet Sierra Mist flavor, since it has that off, sugarless flavor that’s characteristic of diet soda.  I’m not sure if it was my recent exposure to Champagne Cola first or the off-putting aftertaste, but Lemon Drop didn’t do much for me.  While I felt a bit more upbeat, I’d compare it to the mild effects of Mountain Dew Kickstart and Monster Ultra Zero.  Everyone I’ve spoken to said they preferred Lemon Drop, which is fine by me, since that’ll leave more for me to happily bang.  At least, until the cans run out (again).

 

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Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) Review

Few films have enjoyed as much recognition and popularity throughout history as The Wizard of Oz.  Even with a notable group of naysayers, the 1939 release is still regarded as a classic and mandatory viewing for anybody.  Needless to say, any sort of follow-up would pretty much be set up for disappointment, and in 1985 the Return to Oz didn’t leave too much of an impact.  At least, not in the long run.  It’s probably even of less surprise then, that a prequel of sorts released this year will suffer the same fate.

Things start well enough with the eye-catching opening credits and a classic, black-and-white look as we’re introduced to James Franco’s Oz.  While it isn’t entirely clear at first, his Oz is actually a tough character to get behind.  We know from the trailers that he’s an everyday magician and essentially becomes a conman when he arrives in Oz.  The problem isn’t that he’s a liar, but that he oftentimes basks in his own ego, exudes a sort of snobbiness and a general lack of concern.  This isn’t just a concern in the opening act, it stretches throughout the entire film.  He almost comes off like an anti-hero, but this isn’t in-line with how his character is necessarily supposed to come off.  There’s just a lack of sympathy due to his general lack of sympathy (with a couple exceptions).

Another problem arises literally right when Oz lands in, well, Oz: Oz itself.  If you want to know the final word on how Oz looks and feels, it’s colorful but artificial.  If nothing else, Oz should be a bit of a visual spectacle, but it’s a little tough to feel brought in when so much is clearly CGI.  There are actual sets and everything isn’t as abused as, say, the Star Wars prequels, but throughout the movie I was saying “this is to The Wizard of Oz what the prequels are to Star Wars.”

Now, I’m not one who decries every little aspects of the Star Wars prequels.  Likewise, I wouldn’t say Oz the Great and Powerful is devoid of good points.  The first 20 minutes are a solid way to start the film; it’s nostalgic, a good touch base with the characters and again, we get nice opening credits.  One of the characters, a porcelain doll, is a clear highlight of the film and probably the closest it comes to actual emotion.  I mentioned above how Oz’s character left me with a cold shoulder save for a few parts; his interactions with the doll comprised most of those.

But even when talking about what worked well, it’s so easy to get back to what doesn’t work.  Both Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz feel like they were written off for silliness and, if not that, then the costume design, make up and effects accomplish just that.  There are also some sharp plot holes when taking The Wizard of Oz into account, ranging from details such as why the characters are written the way they are, to the actual existence of the story itself.  There’s potential to explain this in a sequel, but that’ll be a tough bridge to connect.

Oz the Great and Powerful has a few neat ideas in place, but ultimately stumbles with inconsistencies as abundant as its own color spectrum.  Even the potentially invigorating moments merely instill a sense of superficiality.  Oz has a small assortment of tricks up his sleeve, but only a couple of them are actually pulled off.

 
 

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