Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Kotas Reviews Lay's Beer and Brats Potato Chips

Oh man it's my favorite time of year again! The sun is starting to peak out more, the cold weather is (slowly) being replaced by warmer days, the monsoons are showing up with more frequency, and yes, the Lay's Do Us A Flavor promotion is back again! These periodic flavor experiments fill me with delight because while they aren't always good, they at least show that Frito Lay is willing to think outside the box and really let their creativity shine by taking suggestions from the public and turning them into marketable goods for which the originator will get no compensation, no matter how popular they become! Hooray capitalism! Anyway, this year's chip adventure begins with Lay's Beer and Brats chips. Let's take a gander.

Sausage fest joke? Sausage fest joke!
I guess I was a little too bitter before, since this time there is a prize for coming up with "the best" flavor, which amounts to one MEEEEELLION dollars, or roughly equivalent to the spare change that the CEO pulled out of his car seats last Thursday. The packaging is surprisingly, uh brown, though DAT SAUSAGE, amirite? The beer looks remarkably like the beer from the old video game Tapper. Honestly, this theme surprised me, but upon reflection it makes absolute sense. One of the best times I've had at a cookout was scarfing down wieners and chips in massive quantities and washing it all down with cheap beer, and if they could encapsulate that experience in a potato chip, it would certainly save me the embarrassment of buying shitty beer. Let's crack 'em open!

Considerably less sausage than I was expecting. Less beer too!
Well, these are certainly chips. They have an amount of flavor dust on them, but they are not completely covered in it. The scent is vaguely backyard grill out, but not what I would call "bratwurst". Definitely sausage-esque though, so you know, decent effort. Of the beer there is but the faintest note of something that might be "shitty domestic", but really, it's hard to tell. Let's dig in, shall we?

The flavor is definitely savory and meaty, though identifying a particular type of "meat" would be difficult. I suppose you could call it roasted sausage, but I suspect that if I didn't know what it was supposed to be, I'd probably consider it just "meat-ish". There is more of the beer-ish flavor here, but not much. Still, it is definitely "shitty domestic" beer flavoring, so it's got that authentic American Backyard Cookout feel to it. You'll probably be surprised to hear that, despite it's inability to be a spot on flavor, it is very tasty on it's own merits. The savoriness compliments the potato and salt excellently, and the little bit of beer like overtones help clear the palette after eating (though not entirely). 

On the FACE Rating System, this gets One Smiley Face. These are very munchable, though if you were expecting a distinct "Beer and Brat" type flavor you will be somewhat disappointed. Definitely go try a bag if you are into savory chip flavors, and honestly, these would go great with Beer and Brats. Perhaps not Lay's finest effort, but it certainly isn't the Wurst!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Kotas Reviews Logan

I've been watching X-Men movies since the first one came out in 2000. Admittedly, after the mediocre X-3 and the abysmal Wolverine: Origins movies, I fell out of love with the series. I hear good things about some of the other films though, and I hope to find time to see them eventually. Still, when heard about the premise of Logan I knew I had to see it. Getting to see Hugh Jackman's last turn as the character, along with Patrick Stewart? Yes, please. Saddle up, it's gonna be a bumpy ride.

I know that look.
Image Source: https://www.indiewire.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/lohan.jpg
I am going to try and keep any spoilers to a bare minimum, or keep it to stuff revealed in the opening moments of the film. A lot of what I'm going to talk about is in the trailers and such, so it shouldn't be too spoilertastic. Anyway, we open on Logan blearily waking up and stumbling out of the limo he's in, only to discover a pile of gangbangers trying to strip his tires. This goes about as well as you'd expect, though Logan looks like he's been through an inordinate amount of shit as of late. His hair is graying, his clothes, while presentable, are worn, and his wounds heal, but not like they used to. In fact he looks very scarred, which wasn't something you'd ever expect to see on the Wolverine.

Later on, Logan is confronted by a cybered up fellow named Donald Pierce, head of the Reavers. They're looking for someone, and want Logan to call them if he finds that someone. This goes about as well as you'd expect, but Logan doesn't just go apeshit on this guy, and for good reason. He's got bigger problems.

Eventually we get to see Professor Xavier, or Charles, as he's referred to here, and I have to give credit to Sir Stewart here, you feel the age of the guy. He's old, decrepit, and his mind is slipping away. Given that mind is also one of the most powerful weapons on the planet, that thought should scare you. It certainly scares Logan. Still, obligations being what they are, Logan is caring for him, along with a mutant named Caliban who is a mutant tracker and an albino, and thus, doesn't have a lot of career options.

To sum up, mutants are dying out as no new ones have been born in years. Logan is the last of the X-Men, and just trying to make enough money to survive and eventually whisk Charles off to the ocean to get away from everyone. Mostly because Charles has seizures that psychically paralyze everyone around him in incredibly painful ways, and Logan seems to be one of the few that can fight through it to get him his medication. It's...grim, dusty, and filled with emptiness of the soul, but things pick up when Laura shows up, showing off some very familiar claws...

From this point the movie is basically a road trip movie with three people just trying to get through the journey: Charles, Laura, and Logan. The plot isn't too complicated (at least for this part of the film), but the interactions between these three really sell the movie, more than anything else. This is a tightly focused character piece about a man dealing with regret finding some way to muster up the ability to have one final adventure. There is a ton of emotion and meaning conveyed with body language and inflection, which goes to show how skilled the acting is here. Sure, it's not perfect, but damn if it isn't firing on all cylinders at times. Then there are the fight scenes.

The cinematography here is actually really well done. You feel the hurt that Logan is in, and the fights are frenetic, brutal, and gore filled, but not to the ridiculous levels shown in the much more comedic Deadpool. There is a touch of realism and grittiness in the fight scenes that normally isn't present in films about dudes who can pop claws out of their wrists. Every crunch, every stab, every flip is there to be felt and make the audience just cringe in shared empathy, even for the nameless mooks who I'm sure were just two weeks from retirement.

There are some interesting parallels between Logan and Charles I want to touch on. In a lot of ways, Professor X and Wolverine were opposites. One has incredible physical prowess, the other mental. One is nearly feral with rage, the other as calm as a lake in spring time. This movie sort of flips it all on its head. Now Charles is the one nearly mad (at times) due to his age and the ravages of onset mental deterioration. Logan has to be the responsible one, the one who keeps his cool because it wouldn't do to have the bachalorette party in the limo flip out when you accidentally pop claws. On the other hand, both men suffer from a similar malady: Their most powerful weapon is now slowly killing them. The adamantium in Logan's skeleton is finally, after all these years, overwhelming his ability to regenerate and boy howdy does it show. Seeing Charles curse and be incredibly childish while Logan has to take on the more parental role is heartbreaking, but it is just so well done.

There are a lot of feels in this movie, so be prepared for a few (or maybe a lot of) tears. Even something as cheesy as an old western is made pretty damn meaningful, and sometimes the victory isn't pretty or sweet, or happy. Still, it is very fitting, and a good way to send off the character. Whoever wrote the very last bit should get a fucking raise too. It did not end the way I thought I wanted it to, but it ended in a way I think was just right. Even if I didn't know it. This is a Western wrapped in a road trip that throws its superhero trappings on just long enough to remind you where it came from.

On the FACE Rating System, Logan gets 3 Very Sad Smiley Faces. If you don't understand that now, you will after you see the film, because you should see the film if you are a fan of the X-Men, the characters, or even just Hugh Jackman or Patrick Stewart. Damn good film. Oh, it also has boobs in it. So you know, there's that. Man, this film couldn't have been made if Deadpool didn't do so well, but boy am I grateful that it exists. Just go see it!