Review: Amaro Massimo

January 15, 2018 § Leave a comment

I admit, this is a departure for a blog that has hitherto been wall-to-wall media criticism, whatever disparities of the media being criticized. Still, I’ve gotten into cocktails over the past year and was given this bottle of Amaro Massimo for Christmas, which does not seem to have any web presence whatsoever. A quick review, to let people know what to expect, is the least that I can do.

Amaro Massimo, an amaro-style liqueur from Distilleria Zanin

Amaro Massimo is a relatively recent entry into a field occupied by dozens of different contenders. Collectively called amari, they are a class of bittersweet herbal liqueur from Italy. Because amaro means “bitter” in Italian, they are sometimes called “drinkable bitters,” just to keep you confused. Famous examples include Cynar, Amaro Averna, and the ever-popular Fernet Branca. Amaro Massimo comes from Distilleria Zanin, a grappa producer in the town of Zugliano near Vicenza in Italy. In addition to grappa, a strong and bitter brandy made from grape-based pomace, they make a number of other liqueurs, including the bafflingly-named Latte di Suocera (“mother-in-law’s milk”), and have one of the most difficult-to-navigate websites that I’ve browsed in recent memory. See it for yourself! « Read the rest of this entry »

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Anime in 2017

January 1, 2018 § Leave a comment

I don’t know if the blog is back. I do know that this was a good year for watching anime, not least because it was the first year of regular episodes for Key Frames: A Podcast About Anime, and that I’ve been wanting a space to go into greater depth on the anime that I bring up on the podcast. In keeping with the trends of the internet, that means a ranked list, although I don’t have a clickbait headline to go with it, and I’m giving myself permission to make it a list of anime that I watched in 2017, rather than just anime that came out in 2017. Away we go!

I’m serving you my picks, like Wakako gets served potato salad in Wakako-zake

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Mad Men Again – S01E01, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”

June 14, 2017 § Leave a comment

Half a year ago, I floated the idea of rewatching Mad Men, one of my favorite shows of all time, and writing capsule reviews for each episode with a couple of friends. It never happened, but a review of the series premiere that I wrote as a proof of concept has been sitting in the queue ever since. I figure, why not publish it? I miss you all and I’ll get this blog up and running again someday, just not today. Enjoy!

AMC’s prestige drama Mad Men, created by Matthew Weiner

Why do people want what they want? What makes those wants into needs? Is it love, whether love of a person or love of an object, or is “love” just something that’s been made up to make us think that we need the things we want? This string of questions runs through all ninety-two episodes of the hit TV series Mad Men, which ran from 2007 to 2015 on AMC, but the pilot episode draws them into the spotlight like nothing else.

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A Hundred Thousand Reasons Why

January 19, 2016 § Leave a comment

Graduate school has given me new lenses through which to enjoy the media that I consume. I know, better than ever, how to read books for pleasure and how to gauge their effect on my own patterns of writing and speech. A good diet of fiction and nonfiction, in several different genres and mediums, has made me a more thoughtful and articulate person, there’s no denying that

It has also ruined more than a few aspects of the media that I consume. I’m going to write about the negative rather than the positive here, because it’s more fun.

The book in question, right here

The book in question, right here

As of the composition of this blog post, I have read five pages of N.K. Jemisin’s 2010 debut novel The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.  As of yet, I have no idea if it’s a good novel or not: it was nominated for a Nebula and a Hugo but lost both to Connie Willis’ Blackout/All Clear. It’s certainly well-written, with a lucid style that is still dense without coming off as self-involved. It also reminds me that my dissertation work, which primarily focuses on familial networks of power among the rural elites of twelfth- and thirteenth-century Italy, has totally destroyed my ability to appreciate fantasy novels, particularly when they hinge upon political maneuverings between aristocrats of a royal or consular court in neo-medieval style.

Even the best authors make assumptions. Writing a book on anything, let alone the actions of multiple persons in a world invented from whole cloth, takes an immense amount of effort and it’s not only preferable but necessary that shortcuts are taken where they present themselves. Jemisin has committed no great sin by partaking in the blend of tenth-century Byzantium, the fifteenth-century War of the Roses, sixteenth-century Machiavelli, the eighteenth-century court at Versailles, and the glamour of prewar Monaco in the twentieth century from which have been drawn the popular understanding of nobility in the English-speaking world from Sleeping Beauty to Game of Thrones, especially if she uses it at the basis for an interesting and compassionate narrative.

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Have Your Christmas Cake and Eat It, Too!

December 23, 2015 § Leave a comment

No posts for the next couple of weeks, since I’m home for the holidays and away from the computer. In the meantime, why not contemplate the most seasonal of anime tropes, the Christmas cake — not the baked dessert, but the unmarried woman over the age of twenty-five?

Kuroi Nanako contemplates a Christmas cake in Lucky Star

Yeah, I know it’s impossibly sexist in concept, but I’ve also found that some of the most sympathetic and complex portrayals of female characters in the medium come out of its use. All the anxieties of adulthood — growing impostor syndrome, narrowing social circles, and recurring romantic failure — are contained in the paternalistic disapproval of any given women experiencing loneliness in her late twenties. Really, in some recent shows, like My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, the writing itself is sympathetic to characters like Hiratsuka Shizuka, depicted as unfairly short-changed by a society that doesn’t properly value strength, intelligence, and ambition in women.

In the meantime, contemplate the best execution of the trope in episode 11 of Lucky Star, if you can. It’s worth it!

Wednesdays Watching Anime – Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!

December 16, 2015 § Leave a comment

Our OP for this week is “Sparkling Daydream” by ZAQ, from Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!.

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Key Frames, Episode 06: Only Six Episodes

December 9, 2015 § Leave a comment

No Wednesdays Watching Anime this week. Instead, we have Key Frames’ seventh episode, all about perennial favorite from GAINAX in 2000, FLCL!

Another episode of Key Frames: A Podcast About Anime

Another episode of Key Frames: A Podcast About Anime

Honestly, I have to crow a little bit about how good the discussion on this episode is. Maybe it’s just that we’re talking about a well-recognized classic, with the full knowledge that “classic” has an ever-changing and often-declining value in the discourse, but I think we all say some things that are worth listening here.

Subscribe to our RSS feed, too, at http://www.keyframespodcast.com!