Category Archives: Notices

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, etc., etc., etc.

If you hadn’t noticed, we’ve been on a bit of a holiday due to the nasty combination of it not only being the holiday season, but also being month-end, quarter-end, year-end, you name it. So between our day jobs as cublicle dwellers and the both good and stressful demands of the season, we’ve gotten behind. So… Happy Holidays, whatever you might celebrate, even if you just celebrate having a long weekend. We’ll be back after the new year with our increasing back log of reviews, including Orange Tree Deli, Belican Grill, and the new Sherlock Holmes movie.

See you next year!

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House of Blues San Diego – Review

House of Blues San Diego the restaurant is an attempt to attach a restaurant to an intimate concert venue. Though you might expect them to just phone in as far as food preparation due to the captive audience, they have obviously made a big effort to have some really good food, enlisting Food Network celebrity chef Aaron Sanchez.

The first thing I noticed as the portions.  I often complain about restaurant portions ; Burgandy and I were literally just discussing if the leftovers from a big Cheesecake Factory lunch would be enough  to feed our little three person family a dinner. It seems to me that most restaurants give you a double portion and charge you one and a half times what you should really pay, which bothers me. Turns out it is better than what HoB does, which is charge you one and a half times and then serve a normal portion.

I had the buttermilk-fried chicken. I noticed first that the meat was a mixture of white and dark, which disappointed me a bit – at close to $20 for the portion I had expected  chicken breast, as I would have gotten at Cheesecake Factory, Lucille’s, or CPK. The coating was quite good, though, nice and spicy. Almost too spicy, but I got through it and actually enjoyed it after all. The sides were less spectacular – the mashed potatoes were fine, but you only received about a coffee mug-full and they weren’t outstandingly tasteful (though they were a nice contrast to the super spicy chicken). The cole slaw seemed out of place and I didn’t eat it.

Burgandy had the jambalaya, which was similar to mine – maybe too spicy, somewhat small portions, could have used some bread or another side. We had meatball sliders as an appetizer – for almost $10 we received only two small sliders (literally small enough to fit a decent-sized meatball).  They were tasty and had good cheese, for all that they were tiny. I do not want to repeat the size complaint over and over again but I will have to give special mention to the molten chocolate cake. It was more warm than hot, though it did taste good, and the ice cream it came with literally was less than a teaspoon, such a small amount it almost seemed like a joke.

The sum total was $75, with no drinks and a shared dessert. Nothing shocking. The ambience was nice – I would sum it up as trying very hard to look different  but not necessarily failing  – it was a decent impersonation of some roadside restaurant somewhere, old and folksy. The food was a bit more than I would have liked to have paid but the main benefit of eating there is that you get to skip the line for your concert (HoB the venue does not have assigned seating). We showed up and hour and a half before the doors opened, with a line down the block, but with the line skipping we ended up front and center – the very front of the pit, close enough to almost touch the band.

Bottom line – if you’re on your way to a HoB concert, you can have a mildly overpriced meal with the ability to skip the line in a venue with no assigned seating. You are very likely to end up in a VERY good position to see the show. Given that $75 for two isn’t a horrific amount of money to pay in the first place and the food is tasty, I would strongly recommend this option.

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RIP Steve Jobs

Regardless of my frustrations with Apple over the years, without Steve Jobs our world would, quite literally, not look remotely the same. Computers might never have been cool, music wouldn’t be available in a nifty MP3 format and readily available on said computer, Pixar would never have taken over Disney’s reign as the summer animation king (Ok, they were bought by Disney, but only because Disney realized they were beaten at their own game), people wouldn’t be reading this on their “phones” (which are more little hand held computers these days), we wouldn’t have tablets! Our whole LIVES would be completely different. Jobs may not have invented the computer, but he certainly found a way to make them accessible to the average person, and as a result, push us into this crazy future we’re in.

So, thank you, Steve Jobs. Enjoy your rest. You’ve earned it.

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Captain America: The First Avenger movie review

I hadn’t expected much from this movie – I like old-school Nazi-punching and early Avenger Captain America but these days he has a bit of a Superman issue – grim n’ gritty is the place to be, with Cap coming off as a bit corny in the best case and some sort of symbol of nationalist excesses in the worst. I did get sucked in by the First Avenger byline, though, since I liked Thor a lot and plan to see the Avengers. Just for reference, this covers the 2D version only – I have been finding 3D hit or miss lately and so we decided to try this one in the normal dimensions.

I am glad I did – this movie was great fun. The cast was, by far, the best part. Chris Evans’ double role as wimpy Steve Rogers and buff Captain America was good enough that I barely noticed the massive CGI work needed to allow it. Hayley Atwell pulled off the somewhat tricky combination of a pinup girl and a hard as nails soldier well. Tommy Lee Jones basically played himself, though that’s not a bad thing. Hugo Weaving was by far my favorite – his megalomaniac anti-Captain was truly great, I though.

This one also had plenty of nerd nods – Cap cycles through his classic costume (with pirate boots and little head wings) before settling down on something more practical, you have Tony Stark’s dad, who probably-not-coincidentally looks a lot like a classic Tony Stark (The coolest dude with the heart of steel, with the little swinger `stache). He serves, well, basically as a stand-on for Tony, at least in the inventing and piloting sense. Cap’s commando team is also full of real characters from the comics, though I only really recognized Dum-Dum / The Irish One. (It also featured something from Odin’s toybox in Thor, and set up the post-credit scene in that movie, if you care).

The summary is simple – great cast + taking the source material seriously + clever writing = good movie. Shocking! It was not entirely a nerd fest, either – my 9 year old daughter is unfamiliar with most of the sources and Burgandy is much more of a DC fan, but they followed it pretty well and enjoyed it. As portrayed, Cap is a very human hero, for all of his slightly-superhuman prowess, and his lack of chauvanism and willingness to sacrifice himself are at least as important as his red-gloved uppercut (though you get to see a lot of this, too). Combine all of that with some city-sized Nazi super-bombers and a rocket car or too and I am in my movie happy place.

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Xmen: First Class Review

The good: It was a surprisingly fun setting. The evil mutants doubled as Bond villains, and it was fun to see a movie with US vs USSR again, it’s been a while. There was some good usage of the characters – Professor X in his early days, before he had all of his gravitas and lost his legs and Magneto as the ultimate Nazi-hunter were both really interesting. As a side note of Things I Enjoy – this was superheroes as urban fantasy, with hidden powers and secret societies waging a shadow war that is paralelled by the Cold War; this movie’s failures tended to be due to an excess of ambition rather than a lack of imagination, which I appreciate. Magneto and Professor X recruiting mutants from a strip club is one of the funniest things I have seen on the big screen in  a while, and there are some hilarious cameos. The special effects really show the improvement you would expect due to the time since the other X-men movies… Magneto is particularly awesome.

The bad – Well, there was just too much stuff there, I think. You have the bit where we learn that super powers are real and are introduced to Charles and Erik (Professor X and Magneto), even see their childhoods and early adulthoods. Then, you have the bit where Charles and Erik team up to recruit mutants and start their own super team to combat the evil version. And then they teach their team to be awesome, learning lessons of their own along the way and forging a brother-like bond. Then, you have an epic showdown between the two teams, and a bunch of things that set up the series this is a prequel to. Thing is, I think this is all way too much to put in a normal-length movie. Parts felt rushed or packed in, and this isn’t just a viewer thing – the time that passes in the movie is a bit short for all the stuff that happens (it’s only a few weeks).  Also, it seemed off – Xmen 1-3 are clearly set in modern-ish times… why did the basic framework for those movies have to be laid down in the 1960s? Makes it seem like not much happens in those 30 years.

The ugly: January Jones is far from ugly. But I really think she is too much on the skinny / bobble head side to play the White Queen. I know she’s real and the comic book pictures aren’t, but I don’t feel like she quite pulled it off – her look is extremely modern if nothing else, which seemed out of place (though, to be fair, you could say this about other characters, too). They made Mystique’s makeup much weirder looking with something like acne-scarring or scales more prominent on her face so she was much less of a thrill than Rebecca Romijin-Stamos, but I guess that was so they could make the point of her being unattractive (though a shape shifter is an odd choice for such a lesson, especially one who looks like she does in the first three). The Beast is a very pretty boy with very ugly feet who eventually turns into someone who is wearing a cheesy costume that he seems to have trouble talking in.

The weird – I liked Kevin Bacon in this, but for the record Burgandy thought he was too self-spoofing and distracting. I thought it was very confusing to have another winged mutant named Angel, when you already have Archangel (who appeared in the third X-men movie and was known as Angel in his early days), but apparently there really is another Angel in the comics who looks like the Angel in this movie, so fair enough, I guess. The whole premise is pretty weird – James Bond Xmen, more or less. I actually really liked it and heartily endorse seeing it on the big screen, but when I finish it seems like I have more negatives than positives. Still, it was good fun!

 

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Synergy

Synergy is what happens when it turns out the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides premier is going to be happening at Disneyland the same weekend as Bats Day! Once upon a time Bats Daywas just a day where the spooky kids haunted d-land in thier gothtastic finest, but has now grown into a full on weekend of events. Since a certain Johnny Depp, star of nearly every Tim Burton movie ever made, is rumored to be showing up,I have a feeling an additional pirate themed activity will be added to Saturday for most Bats Day attendees.

See? Synergy can be awesome.

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Junior Mints Pastels

We enjoyed the Valentine’s Day Junior Mints, so when we saw these little Spring themed treats we had to give them a try.

Alas, they are not nearly as yummy. We were hoping for colored chocolate, instead the familiar creamy mint center is coated in what appears to be just a soft candy coating. This does not contrast with the mint nearly as well as the normal dark chocolate. Cloying is an appropriate description.

So, colored filling =win, colored coating = fail.

At least for us. I think we’ll stick to mini York patties until after Easter.

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