Cervisiam & Beerbliotek – Not Guilty OJ IPA

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Ever since supplies of Beavertown’s fly-by-night Tropigamma Tropical IPA dried up I’ve been obsessed with finding a suitable replacement. A rich, murky brew that’s part fruit, part booze and all magic. So far, the closest I’ve come is Drygate Brewing’s Crossing the Rubicon IPA. But since then, nothing.

Feeling inspired, I headed over to Kris Wines in Camden, the self-proclaimed proprietor of the “best beers” in London. Plucking up the courage, I asked Kris himself if he had any recommendations and he pointed me to a range of neatly canned, fruity sounding beers by Swedish brewery Beerbliotek.

The mouthwatering selection included a Peach Saison, a Passion Fruit of the Loins Imperial IPA and an intriguing-sounding collaboration with Norwegian brewery Cervisiam, called Not Guilty! The OJ IPA. Bingo!

The cleverly named IPA pours thick, dark and hazy. And its 7.5% ABV gives it a rich, heady, full-bodied flavour on top of its refreshing orange undertones. In short, it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. A thick, citrusy IPA whose fruitiness never oversteps its hoppy, malty beeriness. Sweet, bitter, golden and delicious. Kris, I’ll be back…

Bad Santa 2: Triple the Filth, None of the Charm

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Perhaps there is a point to Bad Santa 2: it proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that some films just weren’t made for sequels. The truth is, the original 2003 comedy was a low-cost, high-return box office smash-hit, watched every December alongside cult classics like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Die Hard and Home Alone. So a sequel was always a possibility.

Throw in a 13-year, nostalgia-boosting gap between films and even I was excited when the posters for part two went up. But in the end, Lorelai Gilmore, aka Lauren Graham, isn’t the only thing missing. Bad Santa 2‘s got no heart.

It doesn’t help that the original movie’s two biggest personalities, John Ritter and Bernie Mac, both died between filming. Then again, that’s not Bad Santa 2‘s biggest problem. The truth is it’s lazy. Painfully so. It’s got the same soundtrack. Fine. It’s Christmas. But the gags are all the same, only darker and less sincere, without any of the same charm and personality.

Sure, Bad Santa is dark and twisted, but essentially, it’s about three lonely, broken people who find each other and form a bizarre, unlikely family unit. They stand up for each other and give each others’ lives meaning.

And while some fans thought Graham’s uncharacteristically adult turn as sexy love interest “Sue” cheapened the memory of sweet, virtuous Lorelai Gilmore, I disagree. She’s just as likable and endearing, and her touching interactions with sweet-but-simple kid of the family, Thurman Merman – played by Canadian part-timer Brett Kelly – help tick the feelgood “Christmas movie” box. In contrast, part two has none of the same emotional depth. There are no layers. There is no magic. Just a score.

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Thurman’s role is sadder this time around as well. In the first film he’s a clueless eight-year-old that gets taught a few tricks by his reluctant, alcoholic new dad Willie T. Soke (Billy Bob Thornton). And by the end, he’s well on his way to becoming a better, more functional human being. But instead, he seems to have regressed since part one, and you can only imagine how horrible and miserable his life has been for the past 13 years – with no one to make sandwiches for.

Even Bad Santa 2‘s heist is uninspiring. It’s lazily written and a poor excuse to bring back the world’s worst mall Santa and his double-crossing elf henchman Marcus Skidmore (Tony Cox). In fact, everything about Bad Santa 2 feels forced and painfully unfunny. Everyone’s SO ugly and mean to each other, and all attempts to recreate the redeemingly sentimental feel of the first film fall flat. Bad Santa is an anomaly. A dark, black comedy that starts out filthy yet, somehow, turns into a sweet, redemption-championing Christmas classic. No matter what he does in the original, you like Willie. This time, you couldn’t care less.

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The biggest shock, however, is Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks’ turn as sexy love interest 2.0 “Diane.” Whereas Graham’s sex scenes are natural, alluring and cute, Hendricks’ seem forced and awkward, and they’re so sudden you can’t quite believe what you’re seeing. In fact, her character is so 0.5 dimensional you can only imagine the paycheck it must have taken to get Hendricks to sign on.

Finally, Kathy Bates is flat-out vile as Willie’s ironically named mother Sunny, and Cox’s zombie-eyed, rehashed performance sums Bad Santa 2 up perfectly. In short, it’s a bad, bad movie and a massive disappointment. I’ll probably still watch Bad Santa next Christmas, even though its memory has been tarnished, but I’ll never watch Bad Santa 2 again. Instead, I’ll just pretend it doesn’t exist.

Better Call Saul Season 3: Gus Fring Gets In the Ring

Damn, I totally missed the Better Call Saul season three hype. To be honest, though, I was kind of letting it linger on purpose. Waiting for that big surprise when I turn on Netflix one day and bang, there it is, season three, all ready to go.

Then I saw a touching Aaron Paul Instagram tribute to Jonathan Banks, aka Mike Ehrmantraut, and thought, “Shit, I hope he’s not dead.” Turns out he isn’t. And there’s more good news as well; Better Call Saul is back this April 10. And guess who’s in it. Gus Fring, that’s who…

Of course, rumors are also rife that Walter White himself, Bryan Cranston, is going to make a cameo appearance, or at least direct an episode – depending on who you talk to. Either way, I can’t wait. I love Better Call Saul. Possibly, dare I say it, even more than Breaking Bad.

Kurt Cobain Turns 50: Don’t Smoke

Kurt Cobain would have been 50 today, if he was still alive. Of course, his daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, has been all over the internet, thanks to her touching note to dad and her sweet text message exchange with “Grams.”

Thought I’d just share one of my favourite Kurt Cobain clips. The immortal words of wisdom he imparted on an excitable young fan backstage, straight after his band, Nirvana, blew Reading Festival away in 1992. For a tortured genius, the dude sure had a great sense of humour. Such an endearing, sincere moment as well.