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.