Europa Report for Sci-Fi fans looking for more science

20130728215522europa_3Europa Report, first and foremost, gets the science of interplanetary space travel right. Set in the near future, this thriller tells the story of a small crew traveling to the moon of Europa orbiting Jupiter. Based on actual findings, Europa is believed to contain liquid water oceans inside it’s frozen exterior and their mission is to find proof of life outside Earth. Funded by the private sector, because governments have turned their back on space exploration, the 6 person crew is made up of pilots, engineers, a biologist (specializing in oceanography) and a doctor.  Early in the film, the mission is applauded for making it the furthest in human history and decades after the last attempt in 1972.

The story is told through interviews of people leading the mission on Earth, the ship’s mounted cameras and personal video journals of the crew. This makes the film unique, with fixed cameras that occasionally gets garbled or goes black depending on what is happening. This filmmaking style adds to the suspense because you are not always seeing or hearing everything. This proves a bit much for Roz, as she had to walk away a few times, only to return to see what happened next. Blair Witch Project in space seems an unfair, but accurate description. If this sounds like your cup of tea, this is a recommended Sci-Fi flick that does not rely on typical Hollywood action and effects.

Europa Report is now available to rent via iTunes, Google Play, Amazon before it’s theatrical release.

Also have to note the performance of actor Sharlto Copley (lead in District 9, villain in Elysium) who once again gives a compelling and unrecognizable performance. This time, no South-African accent.

Favorite Songs of 2012

Hard to restrict this to just 2012. Many great 2011 songs and albums I experienced this year. It’s fair to say the indie/rock/alternative scene is alive and well, with many great new bands and solid output from veterans. Now if people just paid attention to it!

Beers of the Moment

photo 4. St. Feuillien Tripel- These short stubby bottles started showing up in my liquor store alongside Duvel. Going at about $4 it’s a great way to enjoy a nice Belgian Tripel, preferably with some aged gouda or strong cheese. The pour  has the expected thick creamy head but fades fairly quickly to leave thick lace on the glass as you drink. Beer is a light gold color, smells of apples and cloves. The taste has a great complexity of flavors—Starts with fruit and sweet flavors of carmel, to give way to spice and a slight boozy flavor. This is one quality Tripel that I don’t hesitate to pick up with the modest asking price.

photo43. Belgo- Let me just get this out of the way. This is the best New Belgian brew I have had. Seeing that this is a IPA, it strikes me odd that it has the label “Belgian Style”. What it give you is nice fruitiness and deep smoothness you don’t find in this type of beer. The Hop is there, but it finishes clean. Does not ruin it with a overly bitter aftertaste most American style IPAs have. This one was fairly easy to find a year ago, but is becoming rare. Grab a sixer when you can.

sumpin2. Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale – I had gone off hoppy beers for a few years, but this has brought me back in a big way. Taste is bold citrusy hop and finishes clean too. Very drinkable for the style, and always tastes fresh like it was just bottled. I became very addicted to this over the summer drinking from the wide mouth mason jar and always hunting it down on tap. Be careful the ABV will catch up with you fast. The world may sing the praise of Pliny just north up 101, but I will take this one over it anytime.

allagash-white1. Allagash White –  Brewed Portland, Maine this is my favorite beer I had this year. This is a dirty blonde that asks you to tip the bottle back and forth to mix the sediment before pouring.  Cloudy pale yellow in colour with a creamy big bubbled lace that shows no problem of retaining. A classic White Ale look. lightly sweet lemon, cloves and coriander mixed with refreshing wheat. The beer is spritzy and gives it character. Despite the complexity being a wit makes it very drinkable. To even novice beer tasters, I can give them a pour and hit a home run. They will get all the fuss.

My Summer of Arcade

XBox Live Arcade has done a pretty admirable job of bringing solid downloadable games to placate the summer draught with their annual Summer of Arcade promotion. This year seems to kill the goodwill by not picking the brightest, but the privileged. So far, we have a decade old game in a disparate bid to resurrect a dying franchise and another subpar Kinect game. Not to say XBLA exclusives have failed. Plenty other titles released recently that I deem worthy.

Swiller’s 5 Tips for you.
(Click to enlarge)

Spelunky: Indiana Jones-like adventure platformer with randomly assembled levels, items, enemies and music, so that no game ever plays the same. The gameplay is very simple. You run, jump, and fight your way through a level to find the exit at the bottom, while collecting as much treasure as you can. You’re equipped with a few ropes, bombs and your trusty whip to get you out of trouble, but you can come across many different items to potentially help you. As you go deeper, you will find a lush jungle, ice caves and mysterious temple in your bid to escape.

The first thing you may hear about this game, is that it is HARD. Most tightly controlled platformers, starting with the likes of Super Mario Bros, require muscle-memory. Retrying the same hurdle over and over, to get past it. This comes into a glorious, but insanely maddening way, with newer indie title, Super Meat Boy. Many complain about Spelunky because it’s randomness does not allow the player progress or get better. But to me, it’s randomness ends up being it’s greatest strength. Spelunky is about learning all the items and enemies you encounter. An entry is added to your in-game journal for every trap, creature, item, and artifact you come across. At the end of each series of four levels you will find Tunnel Man, who will build you a shortcut if you give him the items he needs.

10 Minis are coming soon!

After over ten hours, I found the progression to be a perfect balance. You will get better, but you must play the levels over and over to gain REAL experience in the world, not through manufactured XP, repetition, or leveling up. It has many secrets, that you continually see or learn something new. It’s quite refreshing to not have to repeat the same series of jumps over and over, to get to the next bit. You may also still be amused by the random , different ways the game will kill you over and over. This game is fast and condensed with action. Maybe lasting tens of minutes, if you make it to the end. I understand this XBLA version is a majorly updated port of the free PC version of the game. Jonathan Blow of Braid encouraged the developer to bring it over to xbox , as a result, they polished one of the finest gems on the service.

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All Things Must Pass

Duders, Ween is no mo! Wish I pulled the trigger on the Denver Halloween show last year, or the one at Red Rocks with the Flaming Lips. October, 1996 at the Fillmore remains one of my all time favorites. Luckily, Ween was a rare band that allowed audiences to tape their shows. So their is a lot to remember them by.

Golden Gate Bridge 75th Celebration

I could not find it on the tele, so glad I have this. My favorite American man made monument and Metallica to fireworks!

Caine’s Arcade

Great little story.