Monday, March 26, 2012

Will Over the River win Fremont County?

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 3:49 PM

It's been pushed back twice, per county agendas, but at Tuesday's meeting, the Fremont County commissioners are again scheduled to approve, or not, a temporary event permit for Over the River.

Commissioners have delayed over details entailed in OTR's permit application and, initially, to collect public opinion. This permit is like what OTR must also secure in Chaffee County.

The commissioners meet Tuesday starting at 9:30 a.m. View the agenda here.

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Bach to wish deploying troops well

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 3:00 PM

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  • The U.S. Army

With the presidential election and the economy sucking up all the headlines, it can be easy to forget that America is at war.

Still.

But the reality of the never-ending wars overseas hasn't escaped the memories of local soldiers and their families. And even as war news has died down, more troops from Fort Carson are deploying. More than 300 will leave over the next few weeks.

Mayor Steve Bach plans to attend the deployment ceremony Tuesday to wish the troops well.

MAYOR AND SUZI BACH TO ATTEND FORT CARSON
3rd BCT, 4th ID DEPLOYMENT CEREMONY

Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach and his wife Suzi, will attend a deployment ceremony to say farewell to more than 300 3rd Brigade Combat Team Soldiers on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at 10am. The ceremony will be held at the Special Event Center on Post. The 4th Infantry Division will deploy Security Force Assistance Teams for an Afghan mission.

During the next few weeks, 3rd BCT Soldiers will deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as Security Forces Assistance Teams. The SFAT Soldiers will focus on training, mentoring and advising the Afghan National Security Forces in the southern region for the next nine months.

To prepare for this mission, the SFATs conducted tactical and cultural training for the last three months, culminating with a unique rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana.

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Two MMJ doctors arrested, charged with felony

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 12:36 PM

Williams, left, and Montante.
  • Williams, left, and Montante.

On Thursday, two physicians practicing in Larimer County (the Fort Collins area) were arrested and charged with providing medical marijuana recommendations despite being advised the requester had no qualifying conditions.

Dr. Dallas Williams, 73, and Dr. Joseph Montante, 63, were stung by undercover investigators who "initiated contact with both doctors and were able to obtain recommendations for medical marijuana after clearly stating they had no debilitating medical conditions which would authorize them to obtain medical marijuana," says a press release.

The pair were charged with felony attempting to influence a public servant, which didn't make a whole lot of sense to me, so I called Larimer County Sheriff's Office public information officer John Schulz.

"I believe the way that that works is that they’re trying to influence a public official — in this case the people who issue the marijuana licenses — by providing them false information," says Schulz. "It’s a false recommendation in that it doesn’t meet the criteria according to state law. They did not have a debilitating medical condition."

Considering there really aren't a whole lot of MMJ-related laws on the books, is this a kind of replacement charge?

"I’m not sure I would call it a ‘replacement charge,'" he replies. "It’s just that they’re providing false information to a public official in order to influence his actions."

The Denver Post reports that each has something of a past.

Colorado Medical Board records show that in 2009, Williams received a written reprimand for allowing an esthetician to perform procedures in a clinic that she was not authorized to do.

The records also show Montante and the state Medical Board reached a disciplinary stipulation in the 1990s, but specifics about what he got in trouble for were not readily available because the records are not electronic.

Each doctor has been released on a $3,500 personal recognizance bond.

In somewhat related news, the Post also reported a week ago that deaths linked to prescription opioid use have doubled in the past 10 years "and the steep increases in both legal use and dangerous abuse of painkillers are forcing the medical community to rethink the way it treats chronic pain."

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Glenn opens his door to media

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 11:51 AM

Glenn: Hosts first media session.

I was the only one who showed up at the appointed 10 a.m. time today, but the idea from El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn to host a regular media session once a month is a good one. Glenn represents District 1, which covers the northern portion of the county.

Glenn opened the discussion to any topic, and we covered a lot of ground in a half-hour. Here are some highlights:

Election issues: Glenn feels the city should seriously consider contracting with the county Clerk and Recorder's Office to redraw boundaries for Council districts. While the city code requires new boundaries be in place 150 days before the April 2013 city election, Glenn thinks a draft should be provided a lot sooner.

"I think it's only fair," he says. "If you wait for 150 days before, it's not fair for people who have never run for office." Making sure you live within a district with an open seat and planning a campaign can take time.

"We should give people as much information as possible."

Mail ballot: "I'm a fan of giving voters all options. There are a lot of people who want to go to the polls, vote early or by mail. We should provide all options to people. If it comes down to cost versus credibility, credibility wins out every time."

Oil and gas: Required bonds for road repairs might need to be increased. The bonds recently posted by Ultra Resources of Houston for this purpose ranged from about $10,000 to $18,000. "The staff knows they're in a new area and they're not saying that's where it's going to stay. In my district, roads are No. 1."

Glenn hasn't been on a tour to one of Ultra's well sites in the county, although Ultra already has been taking city Oil and Gas Committee members to the Olive Oyl well site southeast of Colorado Springs.

Glenn says he's open to hear an argument should Ultra want to lease county property as a well site, leading to the county receiving royalty payments if a well is productive. This could be possible if a preferred drilling site is in a county park, for instance.

"That's a huge public issue," Glenn says. "You want to survey the public sentiment. Some people would want to completely preserve" public property. But royalty payments might be a funding source to improve a county park. "If the owners," he says, meaning taxpayers, "don't want to do it, it's not going to happen."

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bonus Cinefiles: House of Pleasures, Wizards and Tooth Fairy 2!

Posted By on Sun, Mar 25, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.

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House of Pleasures (NR)
IFC Films

Ever since I was a wee dandy, I always imagined what it would be like to live in a turn of the century French whorehouse. Maybe I’d be an orphaned messenger the girls took a shine to, or the illegitimate child of a prostitute who died of syphilis and the Madame was kind enough to let me stay. I was sure every night would be a Dionysian orgy of wondrous delights, all under the watchful eye of the Eiffel Tower, like something out of a Baz Luhrmann movie. Bertrand Bonello's bleak period piece House of Pleasures, however, made me give up those dreams, acting as a sort of Scared Straight for early 20th-century French hookers. Taking place entirely in the guts of a classy bordello, the girls all are introduced as real people with real problems, dealing with real customers with real sick needs. Very depressing and very heart-wrenching.


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Wizards (PG) (Blu-Ray)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Smoke three joints laced in formaldehyde and mescaline, turn Black Sabbath’s Sabotage on full volume at 78 speed, and stare into a black-light poster of a warrior troll slaying a unicorn and eating its heart. You are still nowhere near as close as to the ultimate mind-eff Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards will give you, stone-cold sober. Set 2 million years in the future, after nuclear bombs have decimated the planet, man has returned to its original elven state, eschewing the sins of technology for a reliance on magic. While most people want to live peacefully, the dark wizard Blackwolf, fueled by old Nazi propaganda films (and heavy-handed attempts at allegory), seeks to destroy the world all over again. Mixing an underground comix design scheme with some very disturbing rotoscoping techniques, Bakshi has created an other-worldly film. It couldn’t be made today, but can be enjoyed today thanks to 20th Century Fox's deluxe Blu-ray special edition. Primo Turkish hashish and ceramic skull bong not included.


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Tooth Fairy 2 (PG) (Blu-Ray)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

What happens when you want to make a straight-to-DVD sequel to a moderately successful children’s movie that starred Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson? Well, first of all, if that was me who wanted to do that, I would probably shoot myself because I’d realize that not only was I culturally bankrupt, but spiritually as well. But, say I could accept that about myself and happily came to the realization that I can never be better than this ... I would proudly scream, “Damn the torpedoes!” and hire Larry the Cable Guy, stick him in a tutu and have him revisit the role that made The Rock a slick payday. In Tooth Fairy 2, Larry “gits ’er done” as a slacker redneck who makes up for his misdeeds by dressing as a mythical creature and sneaking into children’s rooms, scouring their slept-in beds for teeth, and leaving a nice variety pack of quarters and farts, because that’s what kids need to believe in, I guess. On second thought, pass the pistol.

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Local GOP surprises some incumbents; Dems will contest HD 17

Posted By on Sat, Mar 24, 2012 at 6:00 PM

Sallie Clark still is on the ballot, but her Republican challenger obviously has support as well.
  • File photo
  • Sallie Clark still is on the ballot, but her Republican challenger obviously has support as well.

County Commissioner Sallie Clark and veteran state lawmakers Larry Liston and Amy Stephens found out Saturday that their years in elected office won’t guarantee them anything in the 2012 primary election on June 26.

At the local Republicans’ county assembly, at Liberty High School, Clark lost the top ballot position for the GOP primary in her bid for a third term in Commissioner District 3 to rookie challenger Karen Magistrelli. Also, after serving the limit of four terms in the state House, Liston was out-voted Saturday in his bid for top billing in a state Senate race by Owen Hill, who never has served in public office.

And in the House race between two incumbents pitted against each other by reapportionment, House Majority Leader Stephens of Monument lost the top primary ballot position to Rep. Marsha Looper of Calhan by a slim margin.

Meanwhile, highlighting the Democrats’ county assembly at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, delegates were surprised to learn that the party will challenge Republican state Rep. Mark Barker in an effort to regain the House District 17 seat that Barker won in 2010.

Tony Exum Sr., a retired local firefighter who ran unsuccessfully for a City Council at-large position last year, and who had previously declined local Dems' overtures to run in HD 17, stepped up. Exum made the decision late in the week after meeting with party officials. When he was introduced Saturday by state Rep. Pete Lee, the delegates greeted Exum with a standing ovation.

Other Republican incumbents fared better: County Commissioner Amy Lathen soundly defeated challenger Phil McDonald, who will now have to petition onto the ballot. Commissioner Dennis Hisey prevailed over Auddie Cox. State Rep. Janak Joshi also won by a large margin over challenger Mike Garner for a House seat.

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Review: Reservoir Dogs

Posted By on Sat, Mar 24, 2012 at 2:36 PM

"We ask that you stay at least five feet from the actors," Brian Mann told us as we waited to enter the back room of the Western Jubilee Recording Company on East Cucharras. "Ten feet if they have any type of firearm."

Not your ordinary audience instructions. But then this was no ordinary play. This was Reservoir Dogs, THEATREdART's latest experiment in immersive theater.

A concept that's only about 12 years old, immersive theater picks you up and drops you down right in the middle of the action. You don't sit in some plush upholstered seat. You stand up, wander around, explore. You don't watch from a safe, comfortable distance. You experience it up close, live it, breathe it.

THEATREdART first dove into the world of immersive theater last fall, with their version of Antonin Artaud's surrealist Jet of Blood. Last Friday they leaped in again, this time with a visceral, nearly word-for-word adaptation of the groundbreaking 1992 film directed by Quentin Tarantino (read our preview here).

Excuse me for not being the worlds biggest Madonna fan.
  • HALEY HUNSAKER
  • "Excuse me for not being the world's biggest Madonna fan."

The play is only an hour long, but it packs enough violence to satisfy any hard-core Tarantino fan. Much of the credit for that goes to Crystal Carter, who both wrote and directed the play. The one major change she made from the famously nonlinear film is that her version plays it straight, unspooling the scenes in the order they were supposed to have happened.

As the play begins, you — the audience member — stake your position in the warehouse-like back room of the building. It's there that Joe, a crime boss played with confident swagger by Kevin McGuire, gives final instructions for a brazen diamond heist to pulled off by his hand-picked team of professional criminals.

You follow them into a cheap diner, squeezing around the table as they debate the deeper meaning of Madonna's hit Like a Virgin over cigarettes and coffee.

Finally, you return to the warehouse. And from that point on, as the action unfolds, you'll swear you're watching the real-life aftermath of the heist as the team reassembles one by one and it becomes all too clear that things went horribly wrong.

You gonna bark all day, little doggie, or are you gonna bite?
  • HALEY HUNSAKER
  • "You gonna bark all day, little doggie, or are you gonna bite?"

Of course, with the audience positioned so close to the action, the actors are under a microscope and any flaws in their performances will be magnified. From where I was standing, some of the hand-to-hand combat looked kind of fake. The famous torture scene lost much of its impact because it was done with an empty gas can (couldn't they fill it with colored water or something?). [UPDATE: Carter has since informed me that the gas cap was stuck that night—AKA the magic of live theatre.] And I thought that Valiant Pico didn't show nearly enough agony as the mortally wounded Mr. Orange.

But Troy Sedlacek was truly chilling as Mr. Blonde, taking an almost childlike glee in torturing Josh Wolfaardt's helplessly bound cop. Greg Reilly brought a crazed kind of intensity to every heated argument in his portrayal of Mr. Pink. And veteran actor John Horn nicely captured Mr. White's descent into hopelessness and despair.

No, you don't have to watch the movie first to fully enjoy the play. Even if you have watched the movie, you may want to see the play more than once so that you can experience it from different angles, gain different perceptions.

Just make sure you stay five feet from the actors. You don't want to make Mr. Blonde mad.

Photos by Haley Hunsaker

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Smoke signals: controlled burns outside Woodland Park

Posted By on Sat, Mar 24, 2012 at 10:00 AM

About 1,500 acres in the Trout West Ecosystem Management Project northwest of Woodland Park will be "treated" with prescribed burns that will begin soon.

The announcement comes from the Pike National Forest's Pikes Peak Ranger District in a news release.

The prescribed burns may cover up to 400 acres at one time. The burns will start when "favorable weather and fuel conditions permit" and continue into the fall but no specific days were given.

Ignition can take place only when weather and fuel conditions are optimal. Once the project begins, burning may last from one to several days, with smoke visible from Highway 67 during burning days and several days following ignition. These burns may continue into fall 2012.

Vegetation types are mostly ponderosa pine, grass and shrubs. Most of the timber has been thinned by commercial projects and hazard fuels reduction crews and the slash piles from these treatments have been burned. Surface burning of the area is the final step in the process and is designed to reduce the amount of timber, needles and small diameter woody debris. Fire managers expect the burns to improved soil nutrients and help grass and shrubs to re-sprout for wildlife habitat.
The Trout Creek Prescribed Burn is part of the Trout West Ecosystem Management Project on the Pike & San Isabel National Forests. It is a multi-year undertaking to restore more open conifer stands to the area, increase the amount of grass, shrubs and aspen and reduce dead fuel loading on the forest floor.
For more information contact the Pikes Peak District office at 719-636-1602

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Beefy 'pink slime' is almost dead

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 7:48 PM

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  • Flickr/ilovebutter

Because I know all about buying cheap meat when you're a bit broke, I'm pretty relieved to hear that all major grocery chains, plus Wal-mart, have basically opted out of selling beef that includes ammonia-treated boneless, lean, beef trimmings — or "pink slime."

Even better, the stuff itself appears to be dead, or so thinks the nation's largest meat processor.

“It’s pretty much over,” Cargill spokesman Mike Martin told The Daily, adding: “The retailer concerns are understandable, but it’s unfortunate that ‘finely textured beef,’ which is 100 percent beef and 95 percent lean, has been vilified.”

Yeah ... I guess if I were a company that either benefitted from the stuff, or made it myself — cough, the grossest-named food company in history: Beef Products Inc., cough — I'd think that a demand for something else, anything else, would be unfortunate too.

On a local level, at least some kids are free from its slimy presence. We contacted several Colorado Springs school districts today, but have only heard back from Academy School District 20 so far.

"Our district’s lunch program is managed by Sodexo," writes spokeswoman Nanette Anderson in an e-mail. "Sodexo researched this issue last week and the Academy District 20 Sodexo representative issued this statement: Sodexo does not use any ground beef products containing ammoniated lean beef."

Of course, BPI's not taking this lying down, either. It took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal touting all the nice things people (mostly employees) have said about the slime, and all the people who will lose their jobs as a result.

"It is simply amazing how this mis-information campaign can take a company and product that has long been recognized for its quality and safety and turn the public perception so negative that it now may result in the loss of over 3,000 jobs," cried BPI CEO Eldon Roth into his hands.

And the sob story continues — back to Martin, the Cargill spokesman, the worst is yet to come: Future mass-produced beef will be ammonia-free mass-produced beef.

“We’ll likely have to raise an additional 1.5 million head of cattle to make up for the loss,” he told The Daily.

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Hill, Liston differ on immigration-related vote

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 5:51 PM

Rep. Larry Liston
  • Rep. Larry Liston

Saturday, the El Paso County's Republican delegates will be meeting to "elect candidates to the Primary ballot, vote on resolutions, and energize the proud Republicans of El Paso County!"

Twenty-two hours before this glorious event is set to begin, Owen Hill, candidate for Senate District 10, sent out a press release blasting his opponent over a committee vote.

What happened: a bill (HB12-1309) sponsored by local Reps. Marsha Looper, Mark Barker and Janak Joshi, as well as Sen. Keith King, would have forced employers to run perspective employees through a database to figure out just how "legal" they are:

Under current law, employers are required to examine, and retain records of examining, the legal work status of new employees. The bill enacts the "Colorado Mandatory E-verify Act", which requires all employers in the state, by January 1, 2013, to instead participate in the federal electronic verification program (e-verify program) for purposes of verifying the work eligibility status of all new employees hired by an employer. Employers are subject to fines of up to $5,000 for a first offense and up to $25,000 for a second offense for failing to participate in the e-verify program. For subsequent offenses, an employer is subject to a fine of up to $25,000 and a 6-month suspension of the employer's business licenses.


The bill went to the House Committee on Economic and Business Development, where Rep. Larry Liston is the chairman, and instead of voting the bill out of committee, it was amended and sent off to another committee.

According to Hill, this equates to sending the bill to the "political graveyard."

However, in an email, Liston countered:

I support E-verify and any responsible measure to reduce illegal immigration. That is why I voted FOR House Bill 1309 in Committee yesterday. As is customary in the General Assembly, committee chairmen can request bills be sent to their committee. Out of respect for Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, chairman of the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources committee, I honored that request, and nothing more. This bill has a direct impact on the oil and gas industry, as well as farmers and ranchers throughout Colorado, and deserves to be heard by a legitimate committee of reference.

From Hill's press release:


Dear Chet,

Just yesterday, we were provided with yet another clear example of why I'm running for Senate District 10. My opponent, Rep. Liston again joined the Democrats in playing political games on the important issue of immigration. While other Republicans had the courage to stand up and fight for what was right, Liston chose to duck for cover and send a good bill to the political graveyard. The bill at stake (HB 1309) is a requirement to check immigration status through an online database before anyone is hired, commonly called e-Verify.

According to Eli Stokols of KDVR, "the deciding vote was cast by the committee's chairman, Rep. Larry Liston."

With more than 2/3 of his campaign contributions coming from special interest groups, Rep. Liston has proven once again that he will not stand up for conservative values if he might lose some support from insiders. For more analysis of how Larry is being bankrolled by lobbyists and special interest groups, watch this video (http://youtu.be/-MncUQUVeA8)

This is the reason I'm running for Senate. Procedural votes matter. Every vote matters. We simply cannot afford to have Republican legislators, who have been bankrolled by special interests, siding with the Democrats to kill good legislation all while scheming for political cover on the final votes.

We need strong leadership taking a stand on the important issues facing our state, protecting the integrity of our American way of life.

Warmly,

Owen

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More MMJ-center closures ordered by Colorado U.S. attorney

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 5:47 PM

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Multiple media outlets are reporting that, as Colorado U.S. Attorney John Walsh has been promising for some time, a second wave of 25 letters ordering medical marijuana centers located within 1,000 feet of schools to close within 45 days has gone out across the state.

This move comes on the heels of Walsh's response to a letter from Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett calling on Walsh to stop targeting dispensaries.

In a letter dated March 20, Walsh wrote that, after information showing marijuana abuse by young people had spiked in the last few years, his office "concluded that our responsibility — as federal law enforcement officials, and also as Coloradans living in the vey Colorado communities impacted by these alarming trends — required a response."

We've contacted U.S. Attorney spokesman Jeff Dorschner for more on this second wave of Walsh's "response," but have yet to hear back. Westword did reach Dorschner, who told them there will definitely be one more wave of letters, and possibly more.

It's thought that only a few Colorado Springs businesses are affected by the parameters of the office's request; one could be infused-products manufacturer Discreet Treats, which has a location near Space Technology and Arts Academy on Airport Road. So far, though, co-owner William Prince hasn't received anything in the mail.

"I'm not much worried about it because I did my final inspection with the MMED [Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division], so I'll get my state license and then I'll be able to move if it does happen," says Prince when reached by the Indy.

So far, the downtown location of Indispensary is the only local center forced to close.

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Sole: Huffington Post today, Zodiac tonight, tomorrow the world

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 3:51 PM

sole-e1302629234495.jpeg
Sole is everywhere these days.

The Huffington Post put up an article this afternoon describing the anticon label co-founder as “a hip-hop legend.”

His image is projected on the sides of buildings in the unsettling new video for his song “DIY.”

And, most importantly for Colorado Springs, he and his Fake Four label-mates will be among the featured performers at the What’s Left birthday bash at Zodiac this evening. (Show info here).

Scroll down to watch the newly released video, which is set in a dystopian future that seems considerably worse than our dystopian present — at least, I think it does — and features a dictator who may or may not intentionally resemble our state governor. (Hickenlooper’s treatment of the Denver occupy movement didn’t sit so well with Sole, who spent a lot of time at the protests.)

After that, scroll down further for a quick clip from an interview conducted last week at Dallas airport, where I ran into the artist waiting for a connecting flight to Austin's SXSW music conference.

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Grand opening preview: Great Storm Brewing

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 12:36 PM

We first told you here last October about the impending opening of Great Storm Brewing, and told you here about the Saturday, March 24 grand opening celebration.

But if you're just tuning in, I can now offer you a sneak peek of the whole operation, as owners Lynn and Jeff Jacobs were kind enough to host me for a private sampling last night, during their soft-opening phase. (Disclosure: Lynn formerly contributed some freelance writing to the Indy.)

Click on this photo to see a brief slideshow of the beers, brewery and the Jacobses.

The coolest damn beer sampler paddle Ive yet to see.

You, too, can go check out Great Storm tonight if you want an early look, but be warned that you'll only have access to five of the eight beers I'm about to mention. That will change on Saturday.

Before I get into some of my tasting notes and overall impression of the beers, I'll say that the couple did a great job with their renovation and brewery installation, creating a very cool atmosphere for their tasting room, where blue Christmas lights installed in the bar counter give off a glow that turns otherwise mute grey walls into a soft lavender color.

Corrugated metal wall panels lend a not-uncommon (to breweries) industrial feel to match the fermenting tanks and brew equipment, housed in open view behind a waist-high chain-link fence. And high-top tables sport comfortable black bar stools, with a leather couch set up near a board games shelf to create a little coffee-shop-like cozy corner.

Now, a little more about Jeff, the brewer, and his system and styles.

He operates a one-barrel system, meaning small batches of around 31 gallons. He can turn around a beer on CO2 in about two to three weeks, and a beer on nitrogen in about five weeks. So if he gets slammed with business, it's possible that there could be a lag in turning around some of the beers (since he still has a full-time day job), but he's stocked up for his grand opening.

Jeff has been a homebrewer for six years, and signed the lease on this space last August. It's taken him since then to overhaul it. He plans to keep eight beers on tap at any given time, with about five flagship beers that should always be around, and rotating seasonals.

I asked him if he has any certain signature to his brewing style, and he referred me back to the tagline on his website: "a marriage of the traditional and the rebellious," where he feels experimental brewing meets drinkability.

He says he doesn't want to bore his drinkers, but also doesn't want to lose them with something too far out, so he tries to put subtle spins on his classic brews, something "a little off."

For instance later in spring, he plans to do a fairly traditional blond, but spice it with a little citrus from lemons, limes and oranges. Summer will likely bring a unique spruce beer.

Great Storm pays homage to its name with lightning storm colors throughout, cool custom tap handles and a tempestuous brewing spirit.
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Great Storm pays homage to its name with lightning storm colors throughout, cool custom tap handles and a touch of tempestuousness in its spirit.

On to the beers: I'll start with my favorite, the Shine On Belgian Golden Strong Ale. It all starts with the nose here, as you can detect the faint vanilla notes that come from its brief aging on American oak. It's one of the biggest beers in house at 9.7 percent ABV, slightly sweet in that yeasty Belgian way (to me), and in no way sour (as I've found some strong ales to be).

Jeff's Seven Wolves IPA is also a winner for me, at 8.1 percent ABV on CO2 and 8.8 percent ABV on nitro. The bouquet is much more lively in the CO2 version, but a gorgeous velvety texture characterizes the nitro version, which is just a touch less bitter on the palate, too. Jeff calls this an American-style IPA, made with seven hop varieties and dry-hopped (meaning hops are added to the fermenter after fermentation to increase the hop aroma without increasing the IBUs, or bitterness).

Great Storm's Lilliput Pale Ale and Lightning Wit were perfectly pleasant for each's respective style. If you like Blue Moon, the Wit's for you, with classic orange and coriander inputs to achieve the Belgian style; Jeff adds his twist by aging it on lemon zest, though a lemon squeezed into the glass when served adds the most punch.

The Pale Ale is a small beer, a lower-alcohol brew (5.2 percent ABV in this case, making it pretty sessionable) made from the second running of Great Storm's winter barley wine. This one is also "heavily hopped with three different citrus varieties," which I found lends a skunky nose to it. I don't mean that as an insult — some IPAs smell like marijuana to me, and a few have even hit the ammonia notes of cat pee on the nose, yet have still been plenty drinkable.

Dark, bitter and hangover. Three words that probably do a number on your subconscious, though two of them certainly arent a bad thing in beer.
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Dark, bitter and hangover. Three words that probably do a number on your subconscious, though two of them are just fine characteristics in beer.

Next up, the Brass Ale Honey Amber is essentially a braggot, which you may recall me describing back in February when I tasted Phantom Canyon's Jebus Braggot.

We're talking about a blend of beer and honey, making it mead-like, but not technically a mead because that requires a whole other type of brewing license. Whereas Phantom used more than 300 pounds of honey (in a much larger batch, obviously) to yield a much more honey-rich beer, Jeff says he used only a small amount of local honey from Schmidt Apiaries.

The menu describes the Brass Ale as a copper-colored English ale, slightly bitter with fruit flavors. I didn't quite pick up on the fruit at that point (my palate could have been blown after the IPAs), but the honey was obvious, and I felt it had more of a Scotch Ale nose to it, which I guess isn't too far a cry from some English ales.

Lastly, we have the dark beers: a Rum Raisin Stout and Black Bear Zwartbier.

The Zwartbier is another Belgian-style brew with a lengthy history, and here it is all roasty, toasty nuttiness. My sampling companion, prolific local Urbanspoon contributor Professional Eater Mike, said it reminded him of the bottom of a burnt pizza.

Again, that sounds worse than the beer tastes. He was mostly commenting on that extreme roasted quality, which makes one think of fire and smoke. Outside of the toastiness, it's actually not too heavy of a beer, and enjoyable.

The Rum Raisin Stout also sees nitro instead of CO2, for a lovely creaminess beyond the inherent sweetness from the sugary, shriveled grapes. I admit that were I tasted blind, I would not have picked out raisin in particular for the source of the sugar, as it is a well-balanced beer, with no sore-thumb elements.

Jeff adds the unique ingredient of oats, along with brown sugar, and a note on the menu says it contains lactose as well. It's a surprisingly smooth brew at 9.7 percent ABV again, and I'm sure it'll become a brewery favorite for its novelty and sweet flavor.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bonus Cinefiles: Decision, Immortals and My Week With Marilyn!

Posted By on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 6:46 PM

Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.

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Decision (NR)
Image Entertainment

From the maker of WWJD: What Would Jesus Do comes the Dove Foundation award-winning Decision. Yes, it’s a Christian film, and a non-subtle, in-your-face one at that. That being said, I was visibly moved while watching it. Call it forced pathos, call it the Holy Spirit, call it issues I should deal with, but I was touched when teenager Jackson, bitter over the death of his firefighter father, moves into the country with his grizzled grandfather and is forced to face his demons when disaster strikes. Every week, I watch so many dark and depressive movies. It can wear on your psyche. That’s why I always enjoy it when these uplifting films of faith come along, providing me with at least 90 minutes of inspirational joy, recharging my batteries for The Human Centipede 3 or whatever affront to humanity I have to review next.

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Immortals
(R) (Blu-Ray)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Full disclosure: I couldn’t finish Immortals. I tried — oh Zeus, did I try — but the 300-lite tale of warring gods and goddesses just bored me for what felt like an eternity, with director Tarsem going way overboard on the highly stylized green-screening sets and CGI-fight scenes that go nowhere. On the other hand, I watched it with a teenaged relative who absolutely loved it. Of course, he is obsessed with 300, Gladiator and the Spartacus TV series, going as far as to dress up as the characters and sword-fight alone in his backyard, but, hey, he was entertained and enthralled, completely obsessed with the fierce band of ragtag warriors taking on an insanely miscast Mickey Rourke as brutal king Hyperion, who is on a quest to find the powerful Epirus Bow that gives its user the power to wage war on Heaven.


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My Week With Marilyn (R) (Blu-Ray)
Anchor Bay Home Entertainment

I’ve never understood pop-culture’s obsession with Marilyn Monroe. Sorry, but if we’re talking classic starlets, I’d rather spend a week with Raquel Welch. She just seems more fun and, I don’t know … less addicted to painkillers. Still, we continue to idolize and beatify the blonde sex symbol, even going as far as to create fan-fiction to keep the cult going, as is the case with the interminable My Week With Marilyn. Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams wiggles into her best Halloween costume and dumbs her voice to a level feels more like an SNL skit than an Oscar-caliber performance. A wannabe filmmaker tags along and shares a brief crush with Monroe, who happens to be emotionally breaking down over her performance alongside Sir Laurence Olivier, who, let’s be honest, really had every right to be frustrated. As a matter of fact, the real movie should’ve been about Olivier, the consummate actor, having to dealing with the drugged-out, unprofessional antics of the overrated screen-siren.

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What's Left and John Wise: One night, two birthday bashes

Posted By on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 4:42 PM

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Since our Reverb local music column was on hiatus while I was covering SXSW down in Austin (story here), we weren't able to wish a happy birthday to jazzman-of-all-trades John Wise and zine-of-several-genres What's Left.

Fortunately, you still can.

On Friday, the sprawling What's Left birthday bash at Zodiac gets underway at 5 p.m. and will include sets from Fake Four recording artists Sole, Ceschi and Bleubird, along with the Conjugal Visits, Bullhead*ded, Blighter, L-Ion, Remedios, Disguise the Spy, Ibe Hustles and the Mostly Dont's.

Over at Motif that same night, there'll be a John Wise 60th birthday bash, featuring John, TIm Zahn and Stefan Flores, beginning at 8:15 p.m.

Reverb, meanwhile, will be back next week. And don't forget, you can always find complete live music listings in the Indy's Playing Around section.

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