Tuesday, December 22, 2009

bluebottle coffe co.


There is nothing like a bluebottle latte. Erica told me about this place last winter when I was asking her about places I should visit while in San Francisco. How sad is it that I lived in Berkeley for four years and barely discovered San Francisco in that time? The city has so much it is kind of a sensory overload. While I think I did the standard tourist stuff: Full House house, Golden Gate Park, Alcatraz, Fisherman's Wharf, Trolley Car etc; I barely glazed the surface when it comes to doing local stuff, like discovering the best hole in the wall restaurants.

Now, bluebottle is no hole in the wall, but I didn't hear about it until I left so it doesn't qualify as a San Francisco main attraction, yet. This place does espresso right. I've only had the latte, having only been twice I haven't yet discovered the other drink options, but both times I have had a latte of superb caliber. The milk steamed just right, not burned and not cold but at a temperature I can actually drink with satisfaction, the foam is just a glaze on the surface, and the espresso ground and pressed when you order it. I truly enjoy appropriate proportions, so when I order a latte and get an inch or more of foam, I am not happy. Likewise, if the espresso is drowned out by milk, I am not happy. There should be just enough milk to help the espresso go down, and at Bluebottle a latte is made to near perfection.

While I confess I am no expert in latte, or coffee, or coffeshops, I have worked in the coffee business before and have visited enough coffee shops to know that few get it right. Usually we settle for mediocrity with caffeinated beverages because we drink them for one of two reasons: 1) we need the caffeine to function properly and so taste is not highly valued, or 2) we drink coffee and espresso drinks because it is cool. Don't pretend like neither of those reasons apply to you now, or applied to you in your early relationship with coffee. We settle for mediocrity, we don't value the true art that is involved in making the perfect drink. That's why we spend so much money at chains like Starbucks and The Coffee Bean, and that's why many people are shocked when they go to a place that makes drinks right because said chains do not make drinks right. People are accustomed to the "Starbucks-way" and are shocked when they order a drink somewhere else and find that it is nothing what they expected.

I digress. I go to Starbucks like the rest of America for it's convenience and because my city lacks any real coffee shops, but the whole time I'm longing for Bluebottle and waiting for the day I can go again.

I also will accept Peet's.
Dear Peet's, please come to Rancho Cucamonga.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dexter

I love winter break and how it enables me to be a couch potato with friends.
Jo and I recently started watching season one of Dexter. We both had heard great things about the show, and during Thanksgiving decided that we would spend winter break exploring it.
So far, the series has lived up to the praise we heard. It is a fascinating series about a serial killer who kills serial killers. Dexter is a very unattached, unemotional man that has a desire to kill, a feeling brought on by early childhood exposure to brutal death. He is adopted by Harry Morgan when he is discovered at 3 years old at a crime scene. As Dexter grows, Harry is the first, and only person, to discover he desire for blood and death. Not wanting Dexter to get in trouble or to kill innocent people, Harry, who is cop, teaches Dexter how to maintain control and how to cover his tracks. Harry tries to channel this desire into something positive by teaching Dexter to kill serial killers, or only people who repeatedly harmed others.
When the series begins Dexter is an adult who works as a blood analyst for Miami Metro Police Department. He acts as narrator, bringing the viewer into his mind so he/she can hear him think. The first season revolves largely around a serial killer "the ice truck killer" who has been leaving bodies and body parts of hookers drained entirely of blood in different hotels around Miami. However, soon enough Dexter develops a relationship with this killer when the killer starts leaving messages to Dexter at scenes.
Dexter is intrigued by the killer, not knowing who he is, but feeling in some way connected to him. The ice truck killer has a style that Dexter in some way admires, although Dexter himself does not condone killing innocent people, he is fascinated by the control and planning that this person has.

So Jo and I both really enjoy the series. Dexter is a character I can easily relate to. I do not find myself desiring to kill, the show is more than just serial killers, but Dexter's detachment from individuals and his ability to put on a mask to "be normal" for the people around him is definitely something I see in myself. My inability to show emotions has often left me feeling awkward in situations and made me feel like I was abnormal. Dexter feels the same about himself, and even believes that he is incapable of loving. Throughout the show you see something more to him. You see a man who is struggling to understand himself and constantly underestimating his own ability or worth.

That being said, I'm kind of at a lose in determining if this show is a show I should watch/support. The story revolves around a serial killer and through the stories you actually empathize with him. You kind of want to justify his actions of killing even though he is a bit of a hypocrite himself. Killing people who kill, that just makes you exactly what they are. Is there such a thing as a noble killer? If you kill people who destroy others, is your kill somehow justified? The show doesn't support serial killers, what I've been realizing through the show is that it highlights the pattern of justifying one form of killing (namely, murder) as more acceptable than another. Or, more generally, weighing one sin as heavier than another when in reality we all sin and it doesn't matter how we sin. God doesn't forgive some sins, he frogives them all.

I totally didn't mean to take a religious sidetrack, but I just find this show so very interesting and it's really forcing me to think deeply about certain things.

I did some wikipedia research about the whole series thus far, I'm interested to see how my feelings toward the show change as new storylines are introduced. The show is artfully done well, the music composition is great, the cinematography, everything about the production of the show is wonderful to watch and hear. But, what is the main message of the story? So much to think about...

cheeseboard collective


the pizza is delicious and unique. with only on type of pizza served a day, choosing what you want is never difficult. i've never come accross a type i didn't like, though i will say my favorites include the corn topped and pear topped types. besides how great tasting the pizza is, there are so many reasons as to why i love cheeseboard pizza.
to begin, i have a general dislike for pizza heavy in tomato sauce. i'm not entirely sure why i have this distaste for it, but certain tomato sauces just make me want to vomit. this distaste is not exclusive to pizza, i also generally don't like lasagna. UNLESS, tomato sauce has a specific consistency that is thin and light, i will not like it. on a side, this genral rule helps explain why i'm one, and only a few others exist who share this with me, who doesn't care much for Zachery's. some people say you either love cheeseboard, or you love Zachery's, i know people who love both but i save my heart for cheeseboard alone.


so, the lack of tomato sauce is one reason. next, i would like to mention that i love that the pizza is always vegetarian and the vegetables (and fruits) are locally grown and purchased so avaible toppings are limited based on the time of year. although i'm not vegetarian, i appreciate that the pizza relies on the cheeses to really develop the flavor because i'd prefer a plate of fine cheese to a plate of meat. and, i love food that is colorfully decorated in fruits, vegetables, and nuts. the splash of color in said foods makes me smile.

lastly, like a good little Berkeley shop, Cheeseboard is environmentally conscious and the employee owned collective exemplifies so many characteristics of what Berkeley is known for. Cheeseboard feels like Berkeley, there is no other way to explain it. it embodies the liberal, hippie spirit of doing things differently and doing things with a purpose other than greed. the employees are owners, so they are committed to the business and dedicated to creating pizza that customers will love. and the live music adds to the charm. i remember coming back to Berkeley after a trip, and the first thing i took notice of when exiting BART was the live musicians outside the station. i listened to them play and realized how much i love this city and the many unique things about it.

so last friday mike, susan, princess steph, and i hit up cheesebo. it was mike's first time! he actually tends to dislike all things outside the norm. he is really picky about his food to an extreme that i have always found incomprehensible. i think it is rooted in a deeper fear of change or the unknown, but that's not important now. what is important is that he sucked it up and tried cheeseboard and assured me he will be trying it again soon. success!!!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Glee

I am wathcing the fall finale of Glee for the third time. I love this show so much.

And what an episode last nights finale was! I'm satisfied to say that every loose end I was afraid would be forgotten until the spring season started, was tied up. I am already going to have a bad time the next four months without my weekly Glee doasage, if that show had left one loose end open I would have screamed and let out a fearful wrath to all around. What up with Fox putting the show on hold anyways? I mean, logically I know it makes sense because American Idol is Fox's biggest program and the network needs to drop everything for that money maker, but I am still very dissatisfied. And I found out today new episodes of Eureka aren't coming until Summer 2010! GAH! 2010 is looking like a dim year. What a lame new decade.

Back to Glee. Now that the main loose ends were tied for the Fall Season, there are just all those new ends that were opened up last night to keep us in anticipation for the Spring season, namely Will and Emma. Will they finally be together or will the goodhearted Will go back to the crazy Terri? I like that Terri is seeing a counselor and stuff and that she is trying to "take responsibility" for her mistakes, I even understand where she was coming from (even Emma was nice enough to show pity to Terri in Mattess) but I still don't want to see her and Will back together. And what is going to happen with Quinn, will she remain alone or will she win Finn back? I'm beyond believing anything could actually happen between Puck and Quinn. Please, that man whore is still too young to be happy to settle for one girl even if she is his baby's momma. And what up with the always evil Sue? What will her crazy revenge train (Sue Sylvester Express) bring to McKinley High School? HORROR!Now that she has been stripped of her Cheerio coaching status, its about to get CRAZY! I'm pretty confident that we will see a crazier Sue than any of us have dreamed in our worst nightmares.

Anyways, back to last night's episode, my favorite number was "My Life Would Suck Without You" which included a little bit of ever number they've done so far. Plus, it is a nice backdrop to Will realizing that he can't let Emma leave. I also loved seeing Figgins finally stand up to Sue, it gave me a sweet satisfaction I've never felt before.

Way to take Sectionals! I'm interested to see how the game changes next season (or Season 1 Volume 2). Sectionals are over "but, now we have Regionals..."

Santa, for Christmas I want this and this and this

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Blind Side

I still haven't seen New Moon, I'm kind of proud of that fact because it minimizes my twi-hard appearance significantly. I am not trying to be a twi-hard, so I'm looking for a way to appear as non twi-hard as possible after the New Moon red carpet premiere.

SO, this weekend I went to the $4.50 matinee with Josie to watch The Blind Side. The movie scored a 74% on the tomameter. This doesn't sound like a high enough rating to spend money on in this frugal economy, but I really enjoyed the movie and am quite satisfied with my decision to watch it this weekend.

The movie was really good. I teared up, and I know many others who did as well. The main character, Michael Oher, has a story that makes you love him. He has been tossed around or passed off most his life, leaving him somewhat illiterate and in high school. By luck, luck driven by selfish ulterior motives, Michael is admitted to a Christian school where he sticks out like a fly in milk. The football coach sees him when he is brought along to the school by a man hoping to get his son enrolled, and immediately the coach wants Big Mike for the football team, so he convinces the board that it is their "Christian duty" to admit him and give him a chance for an education that the system has failed to provide him with. The coach is disappointed when Michael goes out for football and sucks due to lack of any training in the sport. But, with the right help, Michael can be an incredible player.

The Touhy's adopt Michael into their family after inviting him over for one night when they realize he has no home, and inviting him to stay because they begin to love him like family. With the help of the Touhy's, Michael discovers his potentials academically as well as athletically, and is being recruited by some big NCAA teams in the south.

It is a true story, so no matter how cliche aspects of the plot might be, that's because humans are often easy to predict and the story should not be faulted for that. That being said, I really enjoyed the hardcore Christian Republican backdrop because it wasn't repulsive as it often is portrayed in media. This southern family seems a lot more atypical than I expected yet the characters do still embrace the cliche stereotypes--football loving, God loving, wealthy white family consisting of a dad (who played college ball at Ole Miss), mom (former cheerleader), daughter (cheerleader) and son (a great athlete); that just all screams American cliche, but I liked them all none the less. I especially loved the apparent hatred toward Tennessee. I have had a strong distaste for this school/team since 2000 when a high school teacher thrust his love for the Volunteers onto his class and referred to us as his "Volunteers." Bleh, the memories make me nauseous.

I digress. To conclude, The Blind Side is a really great story that gives you hope. As a true story, it brings out a selfless and loving side of humans you rarely see. I loved the Touhy family, especially the mom, who was driven by a strong desire to truly help someone. Not just for selfish gain or appearance, but because she knew she had the resources and therefore no excuse not to do everything she can to give this young man a life he desreves.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Moon LA premiere

Monday November 16 was the New Moon Premiere in Westwood, and I hear something like 10,000 people were on the streets hoping to get a glance of the stars on the red carpet. Crazy!!! Even crazier, I was there.

Jessica and I are both fans of the books, and since I'm unemployed and have nothing much going on in my life, and Jessica was able to request the days off of work, I decided we should go to Westwood to check out the "pop culture phenomenon"(as Jojo on the Radio refers to it). Neither of us have been to a premiere, so we didn't know what to expect. We got into Westwood at 6am, and found ourselves on the corner of Broxton and Weyburn in front of the two theatres short there after. There we would remain for the next 14 hours. Well, more or less. We met some great people while we were there and so we took turns saving spots so we could get food, stretch our legs, use the bathroom, and just check the scene out.

I'd say the experience of the whole event was totally worth it. I mean it was crazy, females of all ages screaming hysterically and pushing and shoving like they're trying to get away from a rabid animal, but still kind of fun. The people were the rabid animals. I know that doesn't sound fun, but it was. As an avid observer of people, this was one of those situations where you see the "real" side come out, like Mardi Gras. Worth at least one experince, maybe more if you really like taking risks (our find yourself unemployed and therefore having a lot of free time to fill).

There were Twi-hards camped out since the Thursday before in order to get a ticket to the red carpet, and others who came from out of state or country to stand on the street where we were. Jessica and I were behind a some expereinced movie premierers from Riverside (I.E. represent!), to our left was a woman who drove out from Arizona by herself, to our right were two women who flew out from Alabama, and behind us were two women from Denmark.

As the day wore on, the crowds grew. At 6, when we got there it was just a few of us on the street across from the theatre, but by the time of the premiere the sidewalks were so packed that you could no longer move. This is literally what it looked like where we were (bc this picture is about two feet to the right of where we were). But we could see the town cars and limos arrive, and wathced and heared Jojo from KIIS FM interview some stars. We saw all the twilight stars (werewolves, cullens, volturi, swans, and everyone else), plus some Glee stars (Lea Michele, Kevin McHale, and Mark Salling), Jennifer Love Hewitt with Jamie Kennedy, 50cent, and I'm sure others but I'm too tired to remember.
The best moment of the night was seeing Robert Pattinson <3 I love his smile, and his British accent! He was great to his fans, visiting us and signing autographs. I touched his hand! Definitely did not expect to see myself scream like a teeny bopper when I saw him, but I did.

I found some video and photos of the people we were with, there were so many reporters interviewing fans. Jessica was interviewed by some European station, we'll probably never see that video haha.

Our photos from the event are here. I didn't bring my camera (ok, very little planning went into this and for some reason I thought I shouldn't bring my camera because I figured I wouldn't see anything, I know I'm stupid you don't have to make me feel worse), and Jessica's started show low battery before the stars arrived so there aren't a lot of pictures. If I do this again I'm definitely coming better prepared.

The night ended with hot dogs at The Stand with Josie. Can I just say that I love Westwood. I think I just love college cities, and cities with big buildings and lots of coffee shops.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Alien Jerky

Baker, CA is more than just a giant thermometer off I-15, it is also home to delicious alien Jerky.

Last July my family stopped in Baker after being intrigued by signs advertising Alien Jerky off I-15. We expected a cheesy roadside attraction--which it very much is, complete with a car full of aliens in front of the store

but there is something in that Jerky that had us devouring it in hours and craving it ever since. I asked my mom if we could drive back to Baker just for some Jerky and although I'm convinced she would have enjoyed that, she didn't do it. Of course, when Angel and I decide to go to Vegas I informed her that we had to stop at this place. We went and enjoyed ever minute of our brief twenty minute stop, and one day later my family has already finished a bag of the jerky. I bought the turkey jerky, which I'm loving and finding it very hard to conserve when I just want to feel it all in my belly. My older brother, who loves hot things, asked me to buy him the "colon cleaning hot" flavor and I dare say he has finally discovered how much heat he can handle. "Man, colon cleaner is right, that stuff is insane...Richard tried a tiny piece and almost cried."
The Sweet and Spicy is my favorite aside from the Turkey. I think I just love things that incorporate hot and sweet, like the Carribbean Chicken sandwich at Baker's--LOVE IT!

Anyways, to conclude, I reccommend you stop by and buy yourself some Alien Jerky on your next drive to Vegas. The packages are 4 oz bags, at $8, or 3 packages for $20.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Raising Canes Chicken Fingers


New Orleans caused me to fall in love with two chicken places: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, and Raising Canes Chicken Fingers.
The former being everywhere there is a KFC to compete with, and the latter being only in 13 states. When I left New Orleans I was beyond heart broken over saying good bye to Raising Cane's, not even Popeyes delicious one million times buttered biscuits could take away the pain of losing Cane's Sauce and the moist and tender Chicken Fingers I dip in it.
Imagine my surprise when I spot the familiar red oval reading Raising Cane's on Flamingo road in Las Vegas last July. Unable to stop there to eat then, I was determined to return to Vegas soon to reunite with my love.
Last night we reunited for the most delicious meal of chicken fingers, fries, and texas toast I have had since leaving New Orleans in May.

Only 215 miles stands between me and Raising Cane's, we shall be together again soon.

Edit, 11/09/09: I win! @Raising_Canes has acknowledged my allegience. "A True Caniac! RT @ccrollins: http://twitpic.com/otvrr - 215 mile drive is totally worth some @Raising_Canes"

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Celebrity Jeopardy

Today I was an audience member of Jeopardy! It was a Celebrity Jeopardy episode, or more appropriately "Jeopardy Celebrity Invitational" or something like that. You know how I LOVE celebrities, so this was a wonderful moment in my life. I must admit, I was afraid it would be a bunch of celebrities I didn't know very well. However, as luck would have it, Christopher Meloni was one of the guests! I love, love, love, Law and Order SVU! I spent a good month and a half watching seasons 1-8 on Netflix last winter, so I basically feel like I know Detective Elliot Stabler as a friend. I know, it's sad, but right now I'm unemployed and still adjusting to a new place so my life is overall pretty sad.
The other two guests were Harry Shearer and Joshua Malina. Plus Alex Trebak was there, so it was basically a wonderful afternoon spent not thinking about how sadly Cal lost to Oregon today.
Also, just to give you some history of Sony Pictures Studios where the Jeopardy Studio is, I walked the same path Dorothy walked when she met the Lion, Tin Man, and Scarecrow. This is why I will always love southern California, no matter how much smack I may say when I'm mad or frustrated.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

easy pizza

I made myself a yummy pizza! My mom bought one of those Pillsbury pre-made pizza dough rolls that we cut into three sections (one for me, Changwook, and Dad). I used pesto for the sauce since my dislike for tomato paste sauce remians in tact, but I did cut up fresh tomato and onion. The tomato and onion accompanied the suasage, cheddar cheese, and parmesean cheese I also used for toppings. The pizza was delicious. the only thing it was missing was corn.
I'm determined to "borrow" Jon's Kitchen Aid to make fresh dough sometime soon.

Monday, September 7, 2009

chocolate covered bacon


Have I mentioned that I love bacon? Until about two years ago I was rather apathetic about bacon. When my mom made it I would eat it, but I never went out of my way to get some and never craved it.
Suddenly, though, it's all I want to eat. Today my family visited the L.A. County Fair and I broadened my bacon horizons by trying some chocolate covered bacon.
Three strips of cooked bacon covered in dark chocolate, oh my mouth waters at the thought of the union of two favorite foods.
The experience was very pleasant, though I'm now curious in making my own. The strips were really covered in chocolate so the overall taste was similar to eating lightly salted chocolate. I want to make some using Scharffen Berger chocolate and use less chocolate so the bacon taste a slightly more pronounced.
My dad thinks I'll die of clogged arteries at a young age. This may be true, but bacon is just too good to pass up.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Epicenter

You may not know this, but Rancho Cucamonga has a minor league baseball team. They are in the California League and are a farm team for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. While they are currently not so much a big deal, in 1994 they actually won the California League Championship. For more history, visit wikipedia.

The Epicenter is the name of the stadium. The Quakes have two mascots, Tremor and his little brother Aftershock. They are green dinosaurs. So as a child my family went to many Quakes games. When I was a kid going to Quakes games was a big deal and the stadium was packed. Sunday, August 30, I visited the Epicenter for a game for the first time in about 11 years and it seemed as though the teams popularity had died down.

I was shocked! I have so many great memories as a kid going to games, cheering as loud as possible, receiving birthday wishes on the screen, and performing on the field for gymnastics. Why aren't more people in Rancho loving this place?!
It was Fan Appreciation Day (last home game of the regular season) and the Quakes beat the Stockton Ports 4-3! The first 7 innings were slow, the Quakes scored 3 runs early on and remained in a solid lead for most of the game. It wasn't until the last two innings that I found myself on the edge of my seat worrying as the 3 point lead dropped to only a point lead. The Quakes squeak by in the end, keeping the Ports from scoring in the top of the 9th and sealing the win.
One of the great things about the Quakes is that the tickets are all really affordable and the concessions are pretty moderately priced. A large soda that comes in a nice collectors cup is only $4, tickets are $6-$12, and parking is $4. It should be noted that every seat in the stadium is a good seat. I spend most of my time in the bleacher and cafe area, and I recall as a kid that being the best place for fly balls.
Oh I love this place <3. It should also be mentioned that most of the players were born in 1985-1986.

King Cake

This post is out of season, but I was going through some pictures from New Orleans and I found some delicious King Cake photos. These photos just got me reminiscing of fresh baked custard filled cake from Rouse's, and Cream Cheese, Caramel and Pecan cake from PJ's Coffee, and then the classic and simple cinnamon cake from Winn Dixie or Roberts. Needless to say, I wanted to dedicate a post to this delicious New Orleans treat.

I'll leave it to Cajun Dictionary to define a King Cake for you. "A ring shaped oval pastry, decorated with colored sugar in the traditional Mardi Gras colors, purple, green, and gold, which represent justice, faith, and power. A small plastic baby is hidden inside the cake. Tradition requires that the person who gets the baby in their piece must provide the next King Cake."

The cakes are in every store in the greater New Orleans area from January-March. They also pop up for various other holidays, I've seen Mother's Day King Cakes, but the tradition is for them to be consumed during Carnival.
Haydel's Bakery is popular, I've heard so many people claim Haydel's has the best. I've had Haydel's and it was alright, it was a traditional King Cake and I actually prefer the flavored ones so I'd say it wasn't the best I ever had. The two best king cakes I had during Carnival 2009 came from Rouses grocery store and Marguerite's Cakes. The cake from Rouses was freshly baked, the custard filling melted in my mouth and filled me with joy. Oh, I still can taste it.
The cake from Marguerite's came from my work. Every week the Slidell bakery delivered 12 cakes to our cafe and within 24 hours we were sold out. The cakes went so fast, I never even saw them in the store because I didn't work when they were delivered. Well I walked to the cafe on a day off to claim one for myself one afternoon. Everyone I talked to said the Pecan one is the best, and I was not disappointed. I think I ate half the cake myself.



The thing with king cakes is that while the cake is good, the fun is in hiding or avoiding or being the one to discover the baby. It all depends on who you are. For me, this year I wanted the baby because it was my first year and everyone had stories of getting the baby. After several failed attempts, I got three or four by the time Mardi Gras came around. Next year, I won't be too excited about finding it because buying king cakes can get pretty expensive. Hiding the baby and watching someone else discover it is pretty fun.

Also good is PJ's Coffee seasonal flavored coffee, King Cake, only available during Carnival. It is like drinking king cake, seriously. Kind of weird, kind of delicious.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

G.I. Joe and The Goods

Last weekend Angel and I went to the drive-in movie theatre. I love the drive-in theatre and I have decided that the Inland Empire has the perfect summer weather for an evening at the drive-in. You roll down the windows, recline your seat, turn the stereo up, and watch the movie while the light evening breeze serves as a free air conditioner. Plus, for $7 you see two movies. Grant it, sometimes the selection is less than ideal. The time before this I saw Public Enemies and The Hangover together. Interestingly I went for Public Enemies but ended up enjoying The Hangover more. There are four screens to choose from, one is always two kid/family movies, and the other three are kind of unpredictable. Generally I find two movies from different categories coupled together, Sci-Fi and comedy, Romance and thriller, etc. (ex. G.I. Joe and The Goods, The Ugly Truth and District 9), but that is not always true. Sometimes two movies from the same category are together, like two horror films. It's kind of unpredictable.
Anyways, so Angel and I really wanted to go but neither of us had a particular movie in mind that we really wanted to see. The Goods sounded funny and G.I. Joe (cough*Joseph Gordon Levitt*cough)had some appeal so we went for it.
I actually was impressed with G.I. Joe and thought The Goods fell short.
I thought that G.I. Joe did a great job of making me want to know what comes next. In the opening it becomes clear that a character from the bad side (Ana/Baroness) and a character from the good side (Duke) have a history, but rather than explaining then you are shown snippets of flashbacks throughout the movie. That is what first drew me into the story, I wanted to know what the story was between Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ana (Sienna Miller).
The special effects and CGI are great, I think the story offers more than Transformers in terms of plot. The movie was fun for me because I wasn't given everything, so the pieces sort of needed to be fit together to finish the puzzle. This is another movie that I had absolutely no background knowledge on and I think Angel and I enjoyed it a lot more because we didn't know what the story was about. An aspect of the ending was a huge surprise to us.

The Goods was kind of weak, it was funny at times but I enjoyed The Hangover a lot better. Maybe because I enjoyed G.I. Joe, the movie before The Goods, whereas I was disappointed in Public Enemies, the movie before The Hangover. The thing about these comedies, the crude comedies, is that there are unnecessary production decisions made that add nothing to story. The decision to have a scene in a strip club where exotic dancers direct attention away from the main characters as oppose to a bar where there are no or minimal distractions, seems pointless to me. It's like the writers recognize that the dialog is crap in the scene so they set it in an environment where the male attention is directed away from the characters so they don't realize how stupid the plot is. Since these movies have a male target audience, it doesn't matter. I, however, am kind of offended by it.

So, I spent $7 which is less than a matinee at most theatres to see two movies. I really liked one and won't be re-watching the other. All and all, pretty sweet deal and a Saturday night well spent.

500 Days of Summer

I haven't posted in so long, me dispiace :(
I have done lots of things since Harry Potter (including watching that movie two more times in theatre), but I have been to distracted to post. Today might be a day of catching up on posting.
To begin, I will tell you that 500 Days of Summer is my favorite movie of the summer. This statement could build it up prematurely for those who haven't seen it, so let me give my three reasons for loving it.
1) I think Joseph Gordon Levitt is just adorable to look at. Ever since Angels in the Outfield I've had a crush. That smile with those dimples just melts my heart. I know this is a shallow reason to like a movie, that is why I will provide additional reasoning.
2) I think the movies soundtrack is great. Until recently I didn't pay much attention to the music in movies, but I've come to the conclusion that music is essentially the backbone to a movie. The music sets the tone, it tells the viewer how to feel, it expresses the emotions of the characters, and it tells so much about the story. A good soundtrack is like an audio book of the movie, so you can take it with you anywhere. If I don't like the music, i won't like the movie.
3) It's not a love story. The narrator tells the audience that in the very beginning and I laughed when I heard it. I thought "this movie is about a boy and a girl, so clearly it is a love story," but after seeing the movie I describe it more as a movie of discovery and understanding oneself. It does tell a story of love, but it's not in the cliche boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy and girl live happily ever after format that Nicholas Sparks writes about. I actually heard a KTLA newscaster describe it as "a love story of Los Angeles." I wouldn't call it a love story of any type, it's a story of a person, Tom Hansen, and his journey in rediscovering who he is.

The movie left me somewhat dizzy as it started at day 488, jumps to day 1, and suddenly you are in day 200 and something before you see day 8, but I actually really appreciate that the movie jumps around. I think it helps tell the story better. You see the sad juxtaposed with the happy, so the movie escapes following some prescribed graph of smooth progression until a plateau when it suddenly drops.

To conclude, I will mention that I came to the movie with no expectations. I had heard good things about the movie, but knew very little about the actual storyline. I really just wanted to see Joseph Gordon Levitt, but I left loving the movie and the story, his presence was just icing on the cake.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince


It has taken me a couple days to recover from my midnight madness of HP6 the movie. Edith and Nima came up from San Diego to join me, Natasha, and Mike for the midnight showing at AMC in Victoria Gardens. We got in line between 6:30-7pm and were probably around the twenty to twenty-fifth people in line for our auditorium. We ate Chick fil-A, played two games of Taboo, ate some Chocolate Frogs, and at 9:45pm they let us into the auditorium. We got perfect seats and while waiting for the movie did some Harry Potter trivia. I won a free movie pass and a small popcorn!
After much anticipation the film finally started at a little after midnight. A few technical difficulties during the first preview had me quite worried, but the film played without problem.

While I know some people don't read anything about or watch any scenes before they are able to watch the movie for themselves, I read everything I could find and watched every scene available multiple times. I like to be prepared. As a result, many of the changes the writers and director made for this movie adaptation of the sixth book I was prepared for. The movie and book should not be compared. Despite the movie being around 2 hours and 30 minutes in length, a lot of detail from the book is left out. Somethings that you might consider to be vital to the book are absent from the movie. If you haven't seen the movie yet, go in with an open mind. I think you really have to trust the Art Direction to truly enjoy it, recognize that the book cannot be made into a theatrical film properly, it should be a BBC mini-series. But, keep in mind that the team who did this movie is the team doing the next movies and so there are probably reasons why things were left out of this movie, perhaps there will be greater resolution in the final two movies. Last note before I get into talking about specifics, the CGI has greatly improved! For example, Quidditch is much more realistic, then when it was last seen in movie three (I don't count movie four because you don't actually see much of the teams playing at the Quidditch Cup).

The following are things left out of the movie that I would have liked to see, if you don't want me to spoil the movie than don't continue.
1) There is no time to really delve into Tom Riddle's family, Harry only sees two memories from Dumbledore the one in which Dumbledore first meets Riddle at the orphanage and the one in which Riddle discusses Horcruxes with Slughorn.
2) The Battle at Hogwarts is completley cut. While the Death Eaters do get on campus and the "task" is performed, there is no attack on any students or professors. They swoop in and out rather quickly. Bill is therefore not attacked by a werewolf and Tonks and Lupin are romantically involved in this movie. Come to think of it, there is not even any mention of Fluer and Bill's engagement.
3) The Dursley's are completely absent from the movie which has me wonder if they will even be in the final films.
4) Dumbledore's funeral is not included and neither is the bit where he tells Harry that he must continue where he has left off with the Horcruxes. Maybe it's supposed to be implied.
All I can say is that I'm glad I've read the book so I know what to read between the lines.

That being said, I did really enjoy the movie and I'm glad I went to a midnight showing even though it took me two days to recuperate. The movie is more of a teen fantasy/romantic-comedy film. There is one scene in particular in which Harry and Hermione share this serious moment (not romantic) where they comfort each other because they both have feelings for people (Ginny and Ron, respectively) who are in relationships with others. It was endearing, not something that the book really had. You feel for the characters who are facing "real-life" problems on top of the bigger problem of their world being in danger.
The movie has a PG rating, so there are not many "dark" moments in the film. The darkest moment is when Dumbledore takes Harry to retrieve the locket in the cave. The movie is filled with lighthearted humor. Despite the relative absence of the Weasley twins, who usually provide the comedic relief, I found myself laughing a lot more in this movie than any other. My favorite scenes are when Ron eats the love-potion laced chocolates meant for Harry, and when Harry drinks his Felix Felicis and goes about in a somewhat drunken state to visit Hagrid.
The movie has done exceptionally well. Grossed $22 million the first night, and exceeded $100 million in the first 24hrs. Plus, it currently has an 85% rating on rotten tomato.
If you haven't seen it, you should definitely check it out. It is quite entertaining. I think I'll be seeing it again this weekend at a $4 matinee theatre :D

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Chick fil-A


I remember when there were no Chick fil-A's in California, that was also when Chick fil-A was limited to only mall food courts. Thus, until my senior year of high school my only Chick fil-A experiences were in an Arizona mall food court. Now, my family eats it at least once a week, usually more. This week has been an unusual week. In total, I had Chick fil-A for dinner Monday-Thursday, for lunch Tuesday-Friday (leftovers from the previous day) and paid for a meal this afternoon. That is 9 meals, and I actually had leftovers for breakfast a couple times...I have gained 20lbs this week in fried peanut oil and chicken.
Life is grand :)
Did I mention that this week was Chick fil-A customer appreciation week, so from 5-8pm Monday-Thursday of this past week they gave customers a free item? Monday was a Chicken Sandwich, Tuesday was a Spicy Chicken Sandwich, Wednesday was 8pcs. Chicken Nuggets, and Thursday was 3pcs. Chicken Strips. I <3 Chick fil-A! Friday you could have received a free meal if you dress up as a cow.

7/11


Free Slurpee goodness today :D

I love when stores/restuarants/cafes/etc. do "free" promotions! Free is my favorite price.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

butterbeer

In honor of the sixth Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I have been spending my free time doing various Harry Potter activities.
Today Kimm and I made butterbeer!
The recipes we used all came from this site. We tried three of the ten recipes listed, here is a picture of the ingredients we used.


The first recipe:
Ingredients:
1 cup club soda or cream soda (we used club soda)
1/2 cup butterscotch syrup
1/2 tablespoon butter

Directions:
1. Measure butterscotch and butter into a 16 oz. glass
2. Microwave on high for 60-90 seconds, or until syrup is bubbly and butter is completely melted
3. Stir and cool for 30 seconds
4. Slowly mix in club soda. Mixture will fizz quite a bit
5: Serve
Comments: The club soda left it tasting rather plain. It wasn't that sweet despite the butterscoth syrup. I would try this again using cream soda, or maybe even rootbeer. The least favorite.

The second recipe:

Ingredients:
8oz ginger ale or cream soda (we chose to use cream soda)
2-3 tablespoons of butterscotch syrup

Directions:
1. Mix in a tall glass and serve over ice



Comments: butterscotch delish, it might be better heated. The butterscotch and soda didn't mix well, I think heating them might help that. It tastes butterscotchy and the cream soda makes it much sweeter than the first.

The third recipe:
Ingredients:
1 can of root beer OR cream soda (we used the root beer)
1 tablespoon of honey
2 teaspoons of butter

Directions:
1. Place soda into a microwave safe glass and heat in microwave for about 30 seconds
2. Remove soda and set aside
3. Place butter into microwave long enough to melt it
4. Add your soda, melted butter, and honey to the blender and blend for 5-10 seconds (we do not have a blender, so we just mixed the ingredients together in a jar)
5. Serve

Comments: This was my favorite, and Kimm's favorite too. Though, it didn't have a buttery taste (which is expected for a drink called "butterbeer"). The honey is easily tasted, and the rootbeer is not as sweet as the cream soda so the taste was milder.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

McDonalds, McCafe


I've always felt a kind of connection to McDonalds. It has always been a part of my life, actually in some way I owe my life to McDonalds since that is the place my parents met, so it's another comfort food of mine. Fortunately, McDonalds is everywhere and is always inexpensive so I often find myself going there. As a child my parents would take my family there for $.39 cheeseburgers and my siblings and I would play for hours in the Play Place. I played monopoly more times that I can remember and my mom would take us there early Friday mornings when a new toy was being released in the Kid's Meal. My family literally has a couple black trash cans filled with old Kid's Meal toys. And, in Italy Edith and I ate at McDonalds a couple times a week so we could save money for traveling and museums; all that is to say that I have very many fond memories of McDonalds.
So the new McCafe campaign has intrigued me because I have most recently become quite a fan of coffee. One friend told me that McDonald's actually has really great coffee, better than Starbucks, because the company invests a lot in that market in order to compete. Whether this is factual I do not know. I can say that I'm not a fan of the ice coffee at McDonalds. It doesn't even taste like coffee, it tastes like whatever flavor you get since you can't just order "ice coffee." I don't like when plain is not an option. I want ice coffee! If your ice coffee was really that great I should be allowed to drink it plain--coffee flavor--rather than be forced to choose between Hazlenut, Vanilla, sugar-free Vanilla,...
I MISS PJ's COFFEE!!!!!!!!!!!! The ice coffee there is the best.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chipotle

For those who spent any time with me in Berkeley, it is no surprise that I LOVE Chipotle.
I love how BIG the burritos are
and how stuffed the tacos are. I've never tried the other menu options, but I'm sure they are all realistically enough food for two meals.
I also love the combination of salt and lime that make the chips delicious (though deliciousness does vary depending on batch) and the wonderful guacamole that I have a very hard time saying no to despite how ridiculously expensive it is.
Oh avocados, you make me a happy person. Good news, I read on Yahoo! that avocados are a food that helps fight belly bulge.
I also enjoy how easy the menu is, that is once you figure out how it works, tehehe. sidenote: Menus can be so confusing and overwhelming, I think they are the most stressful thing about going out to eat. Most of the time customers are too overwhelmed by it that they just ask you, or the say something they think is right and hope they don't make a fool out of themselves. I have seen people stare at the menu for a while looking around for what they want, and when they can't find it and feel pressure to order they blurt out something like "Caramel Frappaccino" even though that is a Starbuck's drink and they are not at Starbucks. Also, I have put signs on menus like "NOT AVAILABLE" and have watched customers stare and read the sign only to proceed and order the said "NOT AVAILABLE" drink. I tell you, menus are highly stressful.

Today I took my mom to Chipotle, it was her first visit, and I had to explain to her what the menu options are. It's easy enough, but it is kind of overwhelming when the people behind the counter are like "what do you want?" and you're like "I don't know! I don't understand your menu, where are my options!" Fortunately, this was a low stress visit and a low cost visit because I had a coupon for two free burritos! WOOHOO! Saved somewhere around $12! My little brother got the coupon a few weeks earlier from 99.1 KGGI for knowing what the number one song was (Boom, Boom, Pow by BEP). I tried to talk him into going, but he is weird and doesn't like Mexican food. My mom hesitantly decided to try it. She loved her tacos, and I loved my burrito. Well, the 2/5 of my burrito that I was able to consume before my brain told me to stop. I can't believe just a few years ago I was gobbling down a whole burrito in one sitting.
So now I am off to eat some more of that lovely burrito. Yumm!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Coco's Bakery and Snoopy's Reunion

Happy Father's Day!
I bought this delicious "Peppermint Patty Pie" for my dad from Coco's. Just in case you are wondering, it tastes AMAZING! A dark cookie crumb crust, chocolate pudding filling, topped with whipped cream, brownie bites, green peppermint syrup, and little sugar cookies with Peanut characters coated in sugar.

Kimm bought me a chocolate cupcake while we were there.
The chocolate frosting is so sugary, I got a serious sugar rush from it. I haven't gotten to the cake yet because I'm still waiting for the sugar overload I encountered between the two to pass. Regardless of taste, this is one of my favorite cupcakes because Sally Brown has always been my favorite Peanut. Perhaps a little known fact, Stacey Ferguson (aka Fergie) does the voice of Sally Brown in video productions from the mid-1980s

Coco's is my favorite restaurant right now because of the Peanuts promotion they are doing. The pie was delicious though, that's not just my Peanuts joy talking. The cupcake frosting was too much, and the cake has yet to be explored. I will conclude by saying that you all should buy Snoopy's Reunion! It was recently released on DVD (which is why Coco's is having this Peanuts promotion). It is the show when Snoopy and all his brothers and sisters reunite to visit the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm where they were born. Snoopy as a puppy is so adorable. And Fergie lends her voice to my favorite Peanut in the second feature on the DVD, It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Baker's Drive Thru

Baker's Drive Thru is one of my favorite fast food places. It is a small family owned chain in San Bernardino and Riverside County. The chain was founded in 1952 and prides itself on being "America's First Twin Kitchen." The "Twin Kitchen" is in reference to the American Kitchen (the hamburger grill) and the Mexican Kitchen (the taco/burrito bar). I worked at a Baker's Drive Thru in high school, but I was a fan as a child. After church my family would stop by the Baker's that once stood on Valley Blvd. for lunch. As a young child I never dreamed that I would one day work behind the counter.

Great food, close to home
Why are they so good? Several reasons:
1) The burger patties are lightly salted which really brings out the flavor and I believe helps set their burgers apart from other chains.
2) The milkshakes are hand-dipped and blended by the employees when you order them, so they are fresh and creamy.
3) The French fries are just delicious. Golden, lightly salted, and crispy.
4) Baker's has Haberno Ketchup, JalapeƱo Hot Sauce, as well as the usual mild hot sauce and Heinz Ketchup, which adds delicious spice to the already amazing food.
5) The twin kitchen aspect really is great because sometimes I really want a hamburger and a taco, and I don't want to have to go to two different places to satiate that need.

They usually have great promotions, like right now you can buy 2 bean and cheese burritos, 32 oz. soft drink, and large fries for only $4! That's like a steal, seriously!
My favorite thing to order: budget meal #3, make the burrito big but hold the sour cream. The budget meals are the Baker's equivalent to Kid's Meals. The meals come with a 16 oz. drink, a small order of fries, and the meal item. The Budget number three comes with a bean and cheese burrito. "Make it big" means to add tomato, lettuce and sour cream. Squirt a little Habanero Ketchup on that burrito and I'm set to jet.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Mac and Cheese

The following, my friends, is probably my favorite home-cooked meal.

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, canned peas, and Lil Smokies Sausages.
This meal takes me back to my childhood. It is the meal I crave when I'm home-sick or overwhelmed with being an adult. This is the meal that, for just a few moments, helps me forget my current troubles and replaces them with warm memories of freedom.
It reminds me of the carefree summer days of my childhood spent outside riding bikes, roller blading, swimming, or sliding down the slip 'n slide. Or those really hot days spent in the air conditioned house playing Nintendo or watching TV. It reminds me of camp-outs in my backyard or sleepovers at Sovanna's. It reminds me that once upon a time I didn't worry about tomorrow because I was so busy enjoying today.
While I can't go back to those days, I can do a better job of letting go of worries about the future and trusting that tomorrow will take care of itself.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Up

Last night I went to Bay Street in Emeryville to see a midnight showing of the new Pixar movie, Up. It was, AWESOME! Watch the preview! Then watch the movie.
It was wonderful to be watching the movie in Emeryville (home to Pixar Studios) with wonderful friends (Susan, Laurelei, and Kate) and the movie was amazing, which is to be expected from Disney/Pixar.
The short film before the movie is titled Partly Cloudy, and it is a cute film about clouds and storks, and the little baby people and animals the clouds create for the storks to deliver. That summary does no justice to the actual film, but trust me it is adorable. I teared up a little when a little rainy day cloud almost loses his stork friend to a sunny day cloud. *sniff*
The movie Up has a heavy beginning. Think Bambi.
But it is filled with great humor, as Susan put it. My favorite character is a dog named Doug. A talking dog named Doug. His owner designed a collar that allows him to verbally communicate. One of my favorite lines from the movie is when Doug knocks on Mr. Fredrickson's door after the house floats into the air courtesy of helium filled balloons.
Doug (in robotic voice): "I was hiding under your house because I love you. Let me stay."
There is also one great squirrel joke from the movie that I won't repeat because I could never do the joke justice.
Reasons why I love Pixar:
1) The films are great for kids and adults.
2) The attention to details. The colors of the balloons especially impressed me. In one scene, when Mr. Frederickson's house is floating up into the sky out of the city, the balloons are reflected into a little girl's skyscraper room and it looks so real.
3) The humor. In this movie, the characters each add an element of humor that takes away some of the seriousness of the tragedy that started the movie. There is a good balance of humor and seriousness.
4) Character growth. The characters grow and evolve and learn new things about themselves. It's really neat to watch the character evolution in this film.
4) The Bay Area references. Look out for Fenton's Creamery in this movie.

Overall, I want to go see this movie again tonight, and tomorrow night, and the next night. I never saw Wall-E, but I've seen every other Disney/Pixar movie and I'd put this one near the top of list of favorites.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Kyoto

It seems like just yesterday Jessica and Amy were introducing Amanda and I to sushi at Fuji's in Davis, CA. The two white girls being introduced to sushi by our Asian friends, so cliche.

But it wasn't yesterday, it was over three years ago and since then I can never get enough sushi.
On Tuesday I went out with my favorite PJ's co-workers, Anne(belle), E-dawg, and Stella. We went to Kyoto on Prytania (next to Creole Creamery). The food was great, the service was alright, the atmosphere was nice, and the company was the best!
We started off with some Miso soup

Anne and E bought Pokey Salad

Then we let the sushi roll! I ordered a Sarah Roll and a Stella Roll, I forget what the others ordered. The Sarah Roll had something spicy red sauce on the top that I had to remove with my chopsticks, I'm weak sauce when it comes to spicy.

It was Stella's first sushi experience

What a delightful evening it was. I'm going to really miss these gals, and I know they'll miss having me around as their moral compass.
After dinner we bought some Abita (Purple Haze and Strawberry) and chilled out on the front porch talking. That front porch has not gotten nearly as much use as I would have hoped.
Tuesday night will be one of my favorite New Orleans memories. So many things I like in one evening: sushi, friends, front porches, and beer.

Monday, May 11, 2009

double feature: 17 Again and Ghost of Girlfriends Past

After my stroll along Magazine Street, I met my friend Anne(belle) for an evening at the cinema.
We went to Clearview Mall for a 7:25pm showing of 17 Again. Before the movie, though, we had some delicious mall foodcourt Chinese food.
I had some Honey Chicken, it was so good! There is something so satisfying about a plate of Chinese food, I don't know what it is. Of course, I got more food than I could handle (despite my over three mile walk earlier in the day!) and so I'm glad the meal was followed with sitting in a dark room for a couple hours. It allowed me to hide the food baby from the public.
As for the movie, AMAZING! I know what you're thinking, "Yeah, right" and that thought is soaked in sarcasm, but you are WRONG! May I remind you that you should never judge a book by it's cover. In this case, the "cover" refers to the movie poster:

You are probably thinking this is just going to be another High School Musical movie, since poor Zac will not be able to escape that image for a long time, but really it's more like a better version of Freaky Friday with Jamie Lee Curtis. Only, I think it is far more comedic and enjoyable.
I was one of you, unbelievers. I had numerous friends tell me how good the movie is and I smiled and sarcastically said "sure" not really believing it could be anything but mediocre.
When the film was being heavily promoted before release I kept hearing about how this role was "a more mature role" it was chosen by Zac because he wanted to do something more challenging. I luaghed and thought, "how different could this movie be? Disney is always going to be Disney."
I was a fool! After seeing the movie I understand. I'm not saying it's Oscar worthy, but it is many steps up from HSM. Anne and I both REALLY enjoyed the movie.

After the movie we went to Cafe du Monde for some donuts
So yummy :D
While at the very suburban (think clean floors, older people, families, and a mostly white skinned clientele) Cafe du Monde in Metairie, Anne asks, "Want to see another movie?" and I was all game for that plan. Thus, we returned to Clearview for movie number 2. This time around was "Ghost of Girlfriends Past."
I didn't love it. I do really enjoy watching Matthew McConaughey on the big screen, but unlike "How to lose a Guy in 10 Days" and "The Wedding Planner" (my two fav MM movies) I was not left satisfied with the way this movie unraveled or ended. The movie is some loose translation of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" and revolves around one Connor Meed, a total womanizer. We learn that this is largely the result of his uncle's influence who lived his whole life as a swinging bachelor. Of course, Connor would never have become this way if he hadn't been too nervous in middle school to ask his bff/love of life Jenny (Garner) to dance with him, and instead an older student dances with her and they kiss, USING TONGUE! So scandalous!
So anyways, the movie takes Connor through his girlfriends of past, present, and future, and basically shows him what everyone else in his life knows: he is a total self-centered douche who vows to never spoon, his only interest is in forking.
Without divulging details of the end (as though you couldn't predicted the end for yourself) I will say that by the time he finishes up his time with the ghost of girlfriends past, I was really hoping he and Jenny did not end up together. In romantic comedies I really want to root for first love to to work out, but the way he treats Jenny you really just want to see her live happily ever after and him to continue to live a empty life of one night stands. I mean, it's what he likes so it's not like it'd be that miserable for him.
I will relate this to Big and Carrie in Sex and the City. I was one who, after leaving Carrie at the alter (neh, the library foyer), I never wanted to see Big again. I don't care what the Big-Carrie loyalists think, Big is a total jerkface. The wedding incident was not the first jerkface thing, and I seriously doubt it will be the last. He has never treated Carrie right, not like Aidan anyways. But oh, Carrie cheated on Aidan with no good Big. Then that doesn't work out because Big is a jerk. GAH! Seriourly, people talk about how Bella is a weak female character because she is so connected to Edward, and so protected by him, but I think she has better sense then Carrie Bradshaw.
Ok, serious digression. In conclusion:
17 Again: go see it!
Ghost of Girlfriends Past: don't waste your money

Sunday, May 10, 2009

lovely day on Magazine Street

I have so many things to talk about. With only a short time left in New Orleans, I'm trying to squeeze so many things into so few days.

On Saturday I spent the morning working my last shift at the PJ's Coffee @ Stern Hall
This is where my barista career all began. *tear*

That was followed by a lovely walk through Audubon Park and then a near three mile stroll a long Magazine Street with Lynda. It was our last full weekend in New Orleans, so we wanted to just take it in together.
Here are some pictures from Audubon.
I love how these ducks, in an attempt to run away from me, formed a nice straight line along the bank.
I love how spring brings out so much green!
We stopped at a few boutiques and shops on Magazine, but mostly enjoyed the beautiful weather outside. As a pre-lunch snack we stopped for cupcakes and Bee Sweet Cupcakes.

Lynda got the coconut cupcake.
While I opted for a more Southern appropriate praline cupcake.
They were no Love at First Bite, but still looked pretty. The icing was not very smooth and fluffy, it was hard (but not too much). the cake was not exceptional either. The only options were chocolate or vanilla. I like to have more options.

Well after that we had lunch at Whole Food's. We got to listen to some live jazz while we shopped. I love that about this place.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Soloist

After some thought, I remember that my thoughts went from "wow this is great" to "why isn't it ending?" about when the movie uses Hurricane Katrina footage to "date" the movie. It is kind of offensive to be sitting in a movie theatre, in New Orleans--where things are NOT fully recovered from Katrina--and watch footage of people on top of their roofs screaming for help.
After that things went downhill. Here are some bad reviews on the movie: rottentomato, and some other site that has obscenely strong hatred toward the movie

The Soloist

I don't go to the movies very often because they cost so much money, but every once in awhile I will fork over the $8-$10 to sit down in a dark room and watch a two hour movie. Because this does not happen often, when it does happen I expect AMAZING things. With The Soloist, I'm not convinced I saw the "AMAZING" happen.
I wanted to like the movie. After the first 40 minutes I thought "this has the potential to being a really great movie, Oscar worthy." But then the movie dragged on for another hour!
Now I'm going to be quite honest and say that I'm not sure why I suddenly felt like the movie was dragging. I think it comes from: 1) the introduction of a new character, one Graham Claydon, whom I despise; 2) the pushiness of journalist Steve Lopez to change Nathaniel in spite of Nathaniel's contentedness with life; 3) Lopez's condemnation of LAMB director and boldness in telling him (a man who works with homeless people on a daily basis) that he doesn't know what he is doing. GAH! give me a break Mr. Reporter, straighten out your own life before you start trying to fix someone else's.
I do not, like the character of Graham Claydon in the movie. He is a Christian stereotype that I do not approve of. I hate it when movies have a "Christian stereotype" because it, like all stereotypes, only puts fuel to the fire. Graham Claydon gives a bad name to Christians, I wish there were more Christ-glorifying characters in movies.
I guess those character flaws aside the movie was pretty interesting and eye opening. I never before saw the pandemic of homelessness in LA. I knew the community existed, but it was out of sight, out of mind. Additionally, the desire that Steve Lopez has to help Nathaniel are unselfishly driven, he does it out of love so I shouldn't be angry with him. It's like when you have a friend who is hurting him/herself. You can't demand that friend to stop or change because ultimately what the friend needs is to realize for him/herself that what he/she is doing is actually hurting. Before he/she will change, he/she needs to acknowledge that something is wrong (or missing). You can lead a horse to water, but you can't force him to drink.
I have found this post to be good for me, I feel better about the movie now.

I also really enjoyed reading this review. I think maybe another part of my dislike of the movie comes from the depression it ignites.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry

As most of you can probably relate, I love free stuff. This has become a bit of a downfall in college and in my post college years because it means I am more likely to eat crappily. At work, for example, I get a free pastry so of course I take advantage of that every shift. Even though pastries are sugary, fattening, and have no real nutritional value, I choose to eat them on a regular basis. I also get free soda. In college I had nearly stopped my soda intake for 4 years, but all that is a waste because now I'm addicted to Coke Zero and Sprite Zero. I hate you stupid genetically engineered sweetener that makes the diet taste just as good as the regular!
Now my "acceptable soda" scope has broadened because today I tried Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry. There were people handing them out for free at the corner of Canal and Bourbon, what was I supposed to do, say no? Yeah right! Free means my money stays my money so I'll take you free samples and I'll love you!
Ignatius likes Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry
And so do I

The taste is about as good as any diet drink can be. It tastes a lot like regular, but you still get a weird diet aftertaste that I can't quite understand. But I like drinks without sugar. It doesn't yet bother me that the acid from the carbonation is probably destroying my insides...

Friday, May 1, 2009

New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Co.

Seriously, this is my fourth or fifth time eating at New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood Co., I can't get enough of it. I usually go for the Hickory Bacon Cheeseburger because I have a weakness for bacon (everything tastes better with bacon), but I have also tried the Big Ch-easy and loved it!
The restuarant is nice, you order your food at the counter (like a Sizzler-->once my family's version of "classy" eating) but the cashier hands you a number and a server will bring it out to you. The food comes without toppings, but there is a small bar with lettuce, raw onion, tomato, and pickles that you can add to your plate. All the burgers come with garlic fries, DELICIOUS! I love garlic fries, I'm so sad that it wasn't until college that I learned of this marvelous creation. The fries here are more like wedges and the garlic seasoning they use is superb. I try to wipe off every last bit of it because I don't want to see anything wasted. Surprisingly, my plate was left nearly spotless because I devoured my burger and fries without hesitation. I didn't know my stomach could still handle that much food.
Of course the devouring would not be possible had I not been able to rinse with a delightfully cool beverage. For a drink I always order a tea. Your cashier hands you a cup and the fountain drinks and teas are out in the dining area. You get to drink endless tea while you dine. The tea options are unsweetened, sweetened, or raspberry. I generally get a mix of the three, 3/4 unsweetened, 1/8 sweetened, and 1/8 raspberry. I love tea.
Today they had a soft serve ice cream machine in the dinning space. I think this must be either a) new, or b) seasonal. Since it is now consistently in the 70s-80s ice cream provides a much needed cool down. And I'm pretty sure ice cream can't be bad if it is soft-serve. It's so good you may find yourself wanting to steal your neighbor's cone, such was the case with Natalie.
Overall, the burgers and fries are great. I've also heard great things about their catfish.
Hickory Bacon Cheeseburger!

I generally don't like to mess with a great thing, but I need some plants to counter the meaty goodness so I took my plate to the topping bar where you can decorate your burgers. I added some lettuce and tomato.

Oh how I miss you Mr. Hickory Bacon Cheeseburger, but you are now safe in my stomach and I am a happier person because of that.


Price: Hickory Bacon Cheeseburger-$8.95, never ending beverage bar-$1.95, soft serve ice cream-FREE
Additional: Every time I've been here the service has been really great. Actually I think I've had the same server at least 3 times and she is really friendly. If you go at non-peak hours she'll offer to refill your drinks for you.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Prytania

Tonight I visited The Prytania theatre in Uptown with some friends.
The theatre was on my NOLA bucket list, I forget when I first heard about it but I remember hearing from multiple sources that I should really check it out. In A Confederacy of Dunces, Ignatius visits the theatre. I have not gotten to that part in the book yet, but I imagine the Prytania of Ignatius's time is different.
Why is it such a big deal? It is the only single screen theatre in Louisiana, and the oldest operating theatre in New Orleans (opened in 1915).
It is located in a really plain brick building that does not give off the vibe of a theatre, at least not one I've ever visited. On the website there are pictures of the old building, and I prefer the look of the older building.
You walk into the building and the concession stand is immediately in front of you. To either side of you are small sets of stairs, each leading to a different side of the single theatre. The interior of the theatre looks like many small theatres I've visited.
All in all, it wasn't anything spectacular. Then again, maybe I'm just being negative because I didn't really enjoy the movie I watched, I'll save that for another post though.

Price: $7.75
Additional info: the screen is really large. The friends I met there had parked it in row 4 and as soon as the previews started I knew the movie was going to be hard to watch from that close proximity. It ended up not being so bad, but I really don't recommend sitting that close. Since the theatre is not very busy, there is rarely ever going to be a "need" to sit there.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Superior Grill

Tonight was bitter-sweet. The team went to Superior Grill for some "Fabulous Mexican Dining" which was sweet, but it was our LAST time together which makes for the bitterness.
In three weeks I will be leaving on a jet, and I don't know when I'll be back again. This means the next couple weeks will be full of bitter-sweet memories. *le sigh*
Well Superior Grill was great, per uzh. We went last semester as a team for Happy Hour (4:30-6:30pm) for some frozen drinks, but this time we had dinner to go with our drinks and it was delightful. The drinks are quite strong, I'd like to challenge someone to finish more than one and proceed to walk a straight line. Actually, I'd prefer not to be a part of that nonsense.
I finished my drink but not without feeling some light-headedness and having some serious reservations about standing up afterwards.
The food was delicious. Or maybe the drink is just telling me to say that?

Just kidding, I think the food would have tasted great even without the drink.
Look at that goodness, that picture does not lie. I ordered the ground beef tacos and I was so full after 1 and a half taco, but I trekked through number two and came out a victor. I guess perhaps I came out a loser, depending on your perspective. If you see gluttony as a sin, than I was a loser. If you deny the existence of gluttony than I am a gold star winner!!!!!!!!!! On second thought, I am a loser in that I wore a tight fitting shirt so after the meal I had to uncomfortably suck in my food baby so as not to have a bulging belly. Ok, I guess I'm a loser no matter how you look at it.
Now I must sleep away the full stomach. I'm so lethargic from the meal that I can't do anything productive.
Price: $10-15 for a plate of food, drink is extra.
Additional info: We went at around 6pm and sat at a table inside to escape the humidity and heat (it seems every place in New Orleans invests in air conditioning so you are always deceptively cold when you are inside a building); however the table was facing west on Antonine Street, so a couple people at are table had some serious sun glaring into their faces as they ate.