Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Category: Entertainment (Page 3 of 4)

Root beer reviews: Capt’n Eli’s

Capt’n Eli’s Root Beer has a smooth entry with a swift kick, offering a pleasing, smarm-free taste. It’s top-flight if you want a medium bite.

Sampling date: July 29, 2012

Ingredients: Water, cane sugar, caramel coloring, natural and artificial flavors including wintergreen oil, anise, vanilla, spices, herbs, citric acid, sodium benzoate (preservative)

Nutritional information: 12-ounce serving, 165 calories, 0 grams fat, 40 grams sugar, 35 milligrams sodium, 0 grams protein

Headquarters: Portland, Maine

Rankings to date:
1) Route 66 Root Beer
2) Bulldog Root Beer
3) Capt’n Eli’s Root Beer
4) River City Root Beer
5) Cool Mountain Root Beer

Root beer reviews: River City

River City Root Beer enters the palate neutral to slightly saccharine. It doesn’t taste of medicine, but it teeters close enough that the thought will cross your mind.  A latent, more sincere sweetness is its finishing touch, making the beverage vaguely seductive, like a first date you’re not sure you should call again. But in a pinch …

Sampling date: July 24, 2012

Ingredients: Carbonated water, cane sugar, caramel color, natural flavor, quillaia extract, phosphoric acid, sodium benzoate (preservative), potassium sorbate

Nutritional information: 12-ounce serving, 180 calories, 0 grams fat, 46 grams sugar, 15 milligrams sodium, 0 grams protein

Headquarters: Sacramento, California

Rankings to date:
1) Route 66 Root Beer
2) Bulldog Root Beer
3) River City Root Beer
4) Cool Mountain Root Beer

Root beer reviews: Cool Mountain

Cool Mountain Root Beer frontloads its bite with a carbonated sizzle that has a slight echo of Pop Rocks, followed by a rather slim aftertaste. It’s not bad and certainly inoffensive, but there isn’t an abundance of joy in it.

Sampling date: July 18, 2012

Ingredients: Filtered water, pure cane sugar, natural and artificial flavor, caramel color, phosphoric acid, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate as a preservative

Nutritional information: 12-ounce serving, 160 calories, 0 grams fat, 40 grams sugar, 15 milligrams sodium, 1 gram protein

Bottling location: Des Plaines, Illinois

Rankings to date:
1) Route 66 Root Beer
2) Bulldog Root Beer
3) Cool Mountain Root Beer


Root beer reviews: Bulldog

Bulldog Root Beer hits your tongue thin but slick, with a nice sweetness and a nifty bite at the end. It’s quenching and gone in a hurry.

Sampling date: July 17, 2012

Ingredients: Carbonated water, cane sugar, honey, maltodextrin, natural and artificial flavors, sodium benzoate, real vanilla, phosphoric acid, salt

Nutritional information: 12-ounce serving, 160 calories, 0 grams fat, 41 grams of sugar, 45 milligrams sodium

Bottling location: Mukilteo, Washington

Current rankings:
1) Route 66 Root Beer
2) Bulldog Root Beer

Emmy nominations chat

Before dawn is even a gleam in its mother’s eye (no, don’t try to parse that), I’ll be heading over to Variety to help cover the 5:35 a.m. primetime Emmys nomination announcement.

At 8 a.m., the rest of the TV staff and I will be participating in a live chat to discuss the nominations. Please join us!

Root beer reviews: Route 66

With a $25 gift card to BevMo in hand, I decided to pursue a small but highly significant taste test of root beer. I bought several different brands and will be publishing reviews over the next few weeks. Here is the first:

* * *

Route 66 Root Beer has what I would call a classic non-mainstream taste – the sweet bite that you don’t get in an A&W or Mug. Goes down smoothly and unpretentiously, disappearing all too quickly.

Sampling date: July 14, 2012

Ingredients: Carbonated water, real cane sugar, caramel color, natural and artificial flavorings, quillaia, citric acid, sodium benzoate (preservative)

Nutritional information: 12-ounce serving, 160 calories, 0 grams fat, 28 grams of sugar

Bottling location: Lebanon, Missouri

Sunday evening TV chat

Seemed like a good night for it …

Take me out to the movie

If Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer had been differently inspired:

Take me out to the movie
Take me out with the crowd
Buy me some popcorn and Cracker Jack
I don’t care if I ever get back
Let me root, root, root for the protagonist
If he doesn’t complete the hero’s journey it’s a shame
For it’s lights, camera, action – and cut
At the ol’ movie.

Manny and Ernie

This 2009 photo is from a collection by Jon SooHoo of the Dodgers.

Farewell, Ernest Borgnine

The real deal …

On ‘The Newsroom,’ ‘Louie’ and ‘Hit & Miss’

Debate over HBO’s The Newsroom which premieres Sunday, has unfortunately splintered in some pockets online into a referendum on the show’s creator Aaron Sorkin — as if you must have problems with Sorkin himself if you have problems with the show.

My audience relationship with Sorkin dates back to seeing A Few Good Men performed on stage with Michael O’Keefe in Los Angeles two decades ago, a memorable night. I was a diehard fan of Sports Night and an admirer of The West Wing, The Social Network and Moneyball. On the other hand, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip was a mess, highlighted by its completely unconvincing portrayal of what it kept assuring us was the greatest latenight show in the history of man. (The genius of the other latenight-themed program that premiered at the same time, 30 Rock, was that it took the opposite tack of making its show-within-a-show an embarrassing near-failure.) But you can’t win ’em all — I certainly didn’t lose respect for Sorkin because he couldn’t pull this one off.

In the first episode of The Newsroom, there are two traits that stick out. One is that there is dialogue, even by Sorkin standards, that is just preposterous. I’m not talking about the style of speech — I’m talking about the substance. Just as an example, right in the main opening scene, Jeff Daniels’ anchorman character, Will McAvoy paints a picture of America that would seem to deny that Sorkin ever heard of Joe McCarthy.  Turns out, there’s a McCarthy reference later in the episode, so there goes that theory. Straw men are not in short supply on this show.

Secondly, while the characters in Sorkin’s best work, however confident or even arrogant they might be, feel truly human, McAvoy just feels plain arrogant. Unlike some of my work colleagues, I’ve only seen the premiere, so I can’t speak to what future episodes hold. But the first episode makes McAvoy into someone whom we’re supposed to root for despite his personality flaws. That would be all well and good if he truly seemed heroic, but since the deck is stacked so heavily in his favor (and I say this as someone sympathetic to the cause), it doesn’t feel like real heroism.

All that being said, I didn’t think the premiere of The Newsroom was bad. It moves quickly despite its 75-minute length, and its aims are certainly honorable. But I thought it was flawed, and not only that, the nature of the flaws made me pretty nervous about future episodes. That’s not a referendum on Sorkin, just on the show.

* * *

You might say that Louie, in contrast to The Newsroom, is a show that works even when it’s not working. The parts that meander have their own particular fascination because of how honest they feel. The rest of the show, which premieres its third season Thursday, will blow you away.

In particular, the second episode of the upcoming season, featuring guest star Melissa Leo, will be one of the most memorable half-hours of the year — amazing to the level of last year’s “Palestinian Chicken” episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. The funny thing is that my favorite part of the episode isn’t the provocative second half, but rather a joke by his daughter that Louis CK shares early on.  Nevertheless, I can’t wait for people to see the whole thing.

Episodes four and five form a two-parter that is also spellbinding. The mind of Louis CK simply astounds me. The guy is flat-out funny, but he’s also, in my book, one of the deepest thinkers around.

* * *

Finally, for those of you with DirecTV, keep an eye out for Hit & Miss, which will premiere on DirecTV’s audience network July 11. The premise is ordinary enough: Chloe Sevigny plays a transgender hit person. But rather than sensationalize it, the drama does the opposite — it’s brooding, and although slowly paced, engrossing. (The teaser above jazzes things up a bit and doesn’t quite convey the show’s mood.)

The first episode has the feel of a good U.K. independent film, only rather than wrapping up the story tidily, it’s just getting started.

A tangible reason for the Dodgers’ success: defense

The Dodgers lead the majors this year in Ultimate Zone Rating, according to Fangraphs (via Baseball Musings), by a significant margin. Tony Gwynn Jr., Mark Ellis and James Loney lead the contributions.

* * *

At my Variety blog The Vote, I have a post about Sunday’s episode of “Mad Men” that, if you’ve seen the episode, you might find worth your time.

The most wonderful video of the year

I mean, are you kidding me? Holding your own with “Between Two Ferns?” I’m in heaven.

(First seen on Sons of Steve Garvey.)

The unifying accident

The 2012-13 TV season

Over at Variety’s On the Air blog, I’ve been offering sneak peeks at the 2012-13 TV shows being announced this week by the broadcast networks. NBC, Fox and ABC have already been covered, with a set of CBS clips coming later today and the CW Thursday.

It’s too early to make any informed judgments about the shows, but this will give you a taste.

Oh, this would probably be a good time to introduce a different blog I’m shepherding at Variety: The Vote. Its focus is the Oscars, Emmys and other entertainment industry awards. It’s part of a shift in my duties at Variety that has given me more emphasis in this area. Because I was already heavily focused in TV, the main change will be that I’ll be more involved in our Oscar and other film awards coverage than before.

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