Sunday, December 30, 2012

Roach coaches a.k.a. Food Trucks

I started this a few weeks or more ago. I've been busy and distracted but I wanted to continue with my thought when I began this post instead of deleting it.

I don't know if you've noticed but there's a new fad in town (in the Dallas/Fort Worth and maybe Austin area anyway). It's called a food truck a.k.a. roach coach. Of the ones I've posted below, I've tried two: Easy Slider and ssahmBBQ. I can't bring myself to pay $5-$7 for a freaking grilled cheese from Ruthie's because I keep thinking that I can buy a whole loaf of bread and 24-36 Kraft cheese slices to make my own 12 or so grilled cheese sandwiches for the same price.
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So, I've had all the sliders from Easy Slider. I can't really say that I have a favorite but the two I recall the most are the Sweet & Lowdown and The Nutty Pig. I remember them mainly because of the added toppings of strawberry jam on the first and peanut butter on the second. All the other regular sandwiches are pretty good too except for The Black & Blue. It comes with slaw that takes away from the slider more than it adds to it. It's just not very flavorful slaw. The French Revolution is just as memorable as the S&L and TNP but the toppings like Dijon aren't anything really different that I haven't used on a sandwich/burger before like with the strawberry jam and peanut butter. For the price, I'd go with their 3 for $10 versus the 2 for $7 or just one slider. I just felt like it was a better deal. I also compared the price to slider appetizers that are sold at a few restaurants and 3 for $10 is actually a better price than at most places for the same amount of food. Final verdict: Easy Slider Truck is definitely one that you should try out and I think you'll have an easier time finding them since I think I read somewhere that they purchased a second truck — they are a franchise now. :-)
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I've only had the KALBI(Beef) and DAEJI(Pork) tacos from ssahmBBQ. I've also only eaten from the truck twice. A friend of mine had the bowl and thought it was pretty good. As for my experience with the tacos, I thought they were pretty darn good. The meat is seasoned well and fairly tasty. It comes with some garnishing or what I call "filler" like kimchee, cilantro and onion which adds a little crunch to the taco as well as some tangy sauce. For me, it's the right level of spicy. I can't say much else about the food they serve besides the beef or pork tacos but I'm sure the other items taste just as good. I will definitely try something new the next time I get a chance to order from the truck.
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I can't say whether or not the options from Ruthie's are good eating or not. I haven't actually had any of their product. I probably won't ever either. The only reason being is that I refuse to pay $7 for a freaking grilled cheese sandwich! I can make a dozen grilled cheese sandwiches for $7. I think they may have a couple other offerings but they are still probably just as ridiculously expensive for something so simple and otherwise cheaply made at home. I just threw a picture and link in with the others that I have tried to show a variation of the types of food trucks out there AND in case there are any people out there that would actually pay for an expensive grilled cheese. I work with a few people that have and said they would again purchase from Ruthie's. I'm just a little more stingy with my hard-earned money.

So, in conclusion, these food trucks are a nice alternative to the traditional restaurants like Rusty Taco, Torchy's Tacos, Fuzzy Taco, Digg's Taco, Baker's Ribs, Peggy Sue's, etc., etc. that serve similar food items especially when they are in walking distance or very short driving distance.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Blockbuster Home Page Has Changed

What the hell has happened to my Blockbuster.com home page?! I go to log in today to print out my free movie coupon before it expires and the landing page after log in is weird and confusing. The page itself looks fine but trying to find the new releases is not obvious...to me at least. See image below.


When I highlight "Browse" it shows a list of options with "Movies, TV Shows, Games." When I click on "Movies," it goes to the page in the image below.


This page only shows a list of "DVD Spotlight" movies and some other genres but it doesn't give me a list of recently released movies...this week or last week. Where the hell did that option go? Did they do a survey on this and polled a bunch of idiots!?

This is very frustrating. Another stupid move by Blockbuster management. If I didn't get such a good deal at this time with the Total Access Plan, I would definitely be looking into Red Box or something!

I just want an easy way to find the new releases and add them to my queue without having to know the names of the movies that are new releases. Before, I'd just go through the new release list and add to my queue.

Is it too much to ask for ease of use these days!?

Oh and before anyone says anything, the "see more Blue Carpet releases" button takes me to the page captured in the second image above.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Email humor 12/01/2012

Once an old man spread rumors that his neighbor was a thief. As a result, the young man was arrested. Days later the young man was proven innocent. After being released he sued the old man for wrongly accusing him.

In the court the old man told the Judge: "They were just comments, didn't harm anyone." The judge told the old man: "Write all the things you said about him on a piece of paper. Cut them up and on the way home, throw the pieces of paper out. Tomorrow, come back to hear the sentence." Next day, the judge told the old man: "Before receiving the sentence, you will have to go out and gather all the pieces of paper that you threw out yesterday."

The old man said: "I can't do that! The wind spread them and I won't know where to find them." The judge then replied: "The same way, simple comments may destroy the honor of a man to such an extent that one is not able to fix it. If you can't speak well of someone, rather don't say anything."

"Let's all be masters of our mouths, so that we won't be slaves of our words."

Death asked Life: Why does everyone love you and hate me?

Life replied: Because I am a beautiful Lie and you are painful Truth.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Coast PX25 LED Flashlight from Amazon Unboxing

I broke down and purchased the Coast PX25 LED Flashlight from Amazon.com. I was already ordering something and decided to throw this flashlight in with it. My price comparison found it much cheaper via Amazon than Home Depot—where is the place I originally found it online. Amazon had it for $27.89+tax+S/H. I'm not taking the time to figure the exact tax and S/H but the other product I purchased was $134.95. The total tax on both was $2.54 and total S/H was $10.09. The flashlight price at HomeDepot.com is $41.97 and the preferred vendor of LightsandKnives.com via CoastPortland.com has it for $42.00. So, even with the full price of tax and S/H from Amazon, the total cost would be around $40.00 total.

It didn't take long for the product to arrive after ordering. I took some pictures of the unboxing below. The box is pretty fancy smancy cardboard but it's a nice touch. The box contains the flashlight, three Duracell AAA batteries, a wrist strap, and a manual/Coast catalog.

Taking the flashlight out of the box I could feel it had a good weight to it. It's not too heavy but it also isn't dainty. One thing I did notice is that the push on/off button on the butt of the flashlight will not allow for the flashlight to stand on end. Not a huge deal but it was VERY useful when I used the Coast PX20 in certain situations. As it is, I'll have to lay the PX25 on it's side or rig some kind of removable stand for the light which would kind of suck because I'd have to carry it around or some such making it cumbersome.

The light itself is pretty damn bright. It has a a pretty decent spot with a good flood ring around it. I didn't do an official test for distance but it shines pretty far. At night, I could stand in the street in front of my house and point it down the road. It would reflect off the stop sign, the yield signs, any other signs quite nicely and bright! Actual visibility from flashlight to whatever I would point it at, varied depending on how far away whatever it is was. I think it had at least a visibility of up to 50 feet or even 75 feet. After that, the flashlight still shown but the stuff it lit was not as clearly visible as closer.

Well, that's about it for my "professional" assessment of the Coast PX25 LED Flashlight. Here are a couple of photos of the unboxing.



Thursday, October 25, 2012

Looxcie LX1 Wearable Bluetooth Camcorder System

Saw an ad on my Google Reader feed for Boing Boing mentioning the Looxcie (look-see) LX1 Wearable Bluetooth Camcorder System. ( linked while it lasts.)

I've seen this camera being advertised and reviewed some time ago and didn't think it was that great. But when I saw this ad for deal on it (now for $70 whereas it was much more before), I thought it might be something to consider. However, I was quickly dissuaded from purchasing after clicking on the link to a video from the Manufacturer and then view other videos on YouTube under the Looxcie member name.

The initial video was informative, instructional, and did a decent job at presenting and selling the product. But...the other videos have me wondering about the actual quality of the video produced from the camera itself.

Click to view the various videos of mountain climbing, paintballing, cycling and others. If you aren't below the IQ of Forrest Gump, you'll notice the same thing I did. The video advertisements show very little actual footage from the camera! There is a 2-5 second clip here and there but most of the video is of the climbers/paintballers/cyclers from an angle not shot from the Looxcie camera on the persons head especially not the the LX1. Out of a 30-second ad, maybe a total of 3-5 very random seconds of video feed from the actual Looxcie camera is shown.

So, what are they selling? The person on the cyclist, the bike, the woods, the paintballer, paintball gun, the paintball course, the mountain, the climber, the camera each of these was actually shot with or the LX1? I don't think they sell the camera as much as they sold the environment it was used in. Beside the Looxcie camera was an helmet mounted one and not the over-the-ear LX1—from what I can tell in the video anyway.

I'll stick with my 2011 Tachyon XC HD Helmet Cam or my anticipated future purchase of the GoPro HD Hero 2. They are just more versatile.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Cobie Smulders in The Avengers

This is Cobie Smulders. She played Nick Fury's second-in-command, Agent Maria Hill, in The Avengers.

I hate to say it but she is way hotter than Scarlett Johansson aka Natasha Romanoff and that's huge praise from "Jay" because I have always thought Scarlett was hot.

It's their natural prettiness and beauty that gets me every time! Colbie's got those piercing blue eyes! Also, I would believe her doing all those moves that Black Widow does in the movie than with Scarlett but who am I to judge.

When Agent Maria Hill got hurt in the ship attack, I was sad because I thought they killed her off! Boy was I ecstatic when she was fine (and I mean FINE) other than the bloody scratch(es) in this screen capture.

I hope to see more of Cobie in other movies and I don't just mean her pretty blue eyes!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A cheaply priced replacement battery for HTC Evo Shift

The other day, I was Googling for a replacement battery for my HTC Evo Shift. My current batter doesn't seem to be fully charging and then the phone also doesn't show the correct charge of the battery. It'll show orange but then I'll pop the battery out, put it back in and turn on the phone and it'll show green at half charged. It never shows fully charged even after having it plugged in overnight.

So, that's why I want to get a new battery versus a new phone and versus getting it from Sprint. The replacement battery at Sprint is like $45 plus tax. I don't want to spend that much on a replacement battery since I can probably upgrade to a newer phone soon (if I decide to) and I'm sure the upgrade would be anywhere from free to $100 depending on the phone.

Enter Google. I searched and it gave me a few store listings with various prices, actually a wide range of prices. I saw a few for around $3-$5. It got my interest but also piqued my curiosity on why it was $3. I was thinking of one of those cheap Oakley sunglass sites that show $200 Oakleys for $25 today but then the website is gone the next day. I had some Visa gift cards that I would use for purchasing versus my ATM or Credit Card because I didn't trust them but then they disappeared and I was glad I didn't trust them AND didn't purchase anything.

Anyway, that's why I was curious about this website. I clicked on two links for a $2.99 battery and a $3.30 battery. I decided to email the second website/company (www.everydaysource.com) because when I searched for the battery it had the following in the product title:
Standard GENERIC Battery for HTC EVO 4G / Evo Shift 4g / A9292 / Supersonic HTC Hero (Sprint)
However, when I looked under the 'Compatibility' tab it did not show the Evo Shift 4G. I was like, "Why?" and then I decided to email them. I found the 'Contact Us' page and it had two emails: one for sales and general information and the other for customer service.

I assumed that sales and general information would be the place to start since my question was about a product description versus needing customer service for a product I have already ordered or received. I sent this email on September 18, 2012 around 10:47 a.m. I never received a reply even though their 'About Us' page says,
With a specialized and dedicated customer service department, EverydaySource.com® offers a buying experience that cannot be matched.
I guess that doesn't automatically correlate to a 'specialized and dedicated' sales and general information service.

I realized yesterday that I had not received a reply and thought I'd forward my original email to the customer service email address. I sent it at 10:53 a.m. on September 26 stating that I previously emailed "sales" with no reply in eight days so hopefully would get one from customer service.

I received a reply that night at 10:42 p.m. Stating that the link I posted in the email for the product is dead. This is the link below
http://www.everydaysource.com/product/standard-generic-battery-for-htc-evo-4g-evo-shift-4g-a9292-supersonic-htc-hero-sprint-htc-imagio-xv6975-htc-ozone-xv6175-htc-snap-s511-sprint-htc-snap-s521-s522-htc-tilt-2-htc-touch-pro2-sprint-t-mobile-verizon-gsm-t-mobile-dash-3g/83765?esprcggbadtf120917=sc+gb+83765&utm_source=google&utm_medium=product_search&utm_campaign=google_base#ItemDetailTab
Did it work for you? Yes?! It still works for me. I don't know why it didn't work for the customer service representative. Maybe she doesn't know how to copy and paste a link if it's not automatically hyperlinked in the email. Who knows!

Luckily, I was still awake and I got the item # from the link that was supposed to be dead and replied to the email. I received a reply at 3:50 a.m. on September 27 (I was not awake at this time) stating,
"This battery can not work with Evo Shift 4G. If you have any questions, please let us know. Thank you for your cooperation."
I have one question, "Why does the product title state 'Generic battery for HTC Evo Shift 4G' but customer service tells me it does not work with the Shift 4G?"

I knew there was something screwy with it being $3.30. That's what we call shady business people! People not as smart...er...inquisitive as me would just buy the battery. Then they'd have to try to contact their sales and/or customer service to return the battery that doesn't work with their Evo Shift 4G. I'm sure sales/customer service would give them a hard time or some people would just say, "Screw it! I'm only out like $5 total." Bullshit! I'm like the paper boy from the movie Better Off Dead:
"I WANT MY TWO DOLLARS!!!!
Random I know. But so now I'm still stuck with a half-charging battery for my Evo Shift unless I suck it up and pay the $45+ for the battery from Sprint.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Do you like camping?

I'm not talking cabining. I'm talking camping: a tent, a campfire, folding chairs, Coleman stove and/or lantern, flashlights, bug spray, marshmallows, etc. If I can find a campsite with water and electricity, I usually prefer it mainly for the fact of having running water to wash the camping dishes after use and the electricity is for maybe a fan in the tent for the hot days/nights in the Texas summer. If you think I'm not really camping because of the water and/or electricity, then you come to Texas and see how hot and humid it is in July or August in a wooded campsite with no breeze. I like the outdoors but I don't want to have to peel my shorts and underoos off everytime I take a piss or shit. Nor do I enjoy being sticky hot when trying to sleep in the tent during the night.

I like camping because it forces me to disconnect. Not completely, but enough to just sit back and relax for hours without constant distractions.

The wife doesn't like camping. She wants to go cabining and I'm not just talking about a screened shelter. She basically wants the amenities of a hotel room in a campsite. I told her what's the point of going camping then. She said, "My point exactly!" I fell right into that one!

Anyway, I've picked up a few items here and there that I thought I might need when I go camping...with or without the wife or family. I've picked them up because I found them for a very good price and I don't want to want/need it later and have to buy it a higher price because I basically need it immediately.

4-Man Dome Tent

The first thing I bought was a 4-man dome tent. Regularly $120. I got it on sale for something like $24.99. After tax, shipping and handling, I think it totaled around $30.00. I believe it has a sort of screen sunroof type top and a full-tent tarp for draping over the tent to keep the wind, rain, and dust out. I would put the brand and model but I'm at work right now. I got this idea to post about camping and didn't want to lose the moment like so often I do. Anyway, I've had this tent for almost two years now. The weekend I got it it was like 25 degrees outside. The kids were all about camping in the backyard that night but the wife poopooed the idea when she decided it was just too damned cold. We don't have quality sleeping bags and only had a few blankets and pillows which the wife said wasn't enough. I had already put it up to see what it was like so it just sat in the backyard unused for the night. I packed it up the next morning and it was in my garage for about a year before a neighbor borrowed it to go camping with her two kids. She said it worked great and was easy to put up and take down. She even packed it back in the carrying bag better than I originally did. Someday I guess I'll get to officially test it out.

Titan LED Lantern

Also about two years ago, I purchased the Titan Lantern from Black Diamond Equipment. I think I saw some email deal in regards to this LED lantern. At first, I was hesitant because I grew up campign with a Coleman fuel-burning Coleman lantern. Coleman fuel was the campers' choice back in the late '70s, '80s and even '90s. I don't even remember anything mentioning using propane until the late '90s. They did have butane lighters. Anyway, that's getting off the topic of THIS lantern. I have used the Titan Lantern more than a dozen times since it was delivered although never for camping. We have neighborhood block parties and lights are always needed while cooking, eating or for whatever reason. Instead of carrying out my dual 1000-watt halogen work lamps, it's been much easier using the Titan Lantern. My friends and neighbors have all complemented on how bright it is and how when it's too bright it can be adjusted. That's right. This lantern's brightness is "fully" adjustable. It turns on at its brightess but can be dimmed and then brightened again. I think the spec sheet says the lumens range from 10 to 250. I don't have a lumen gauge but it does get pretty bright, very bright in my opinion. I've had to dim it down occasionally because I just needed enough light to read my Kindle or something like that while sitting under my patio canopy during the evening/night. It takes 4 D-cell batteries and so far it's lasted at least 4 hours on high. I haven't used it longer than 4 hours straight so I can't tell you the complete run time on it but the specs sheet says '15 hours' at the full 250 lumens. I didn't see any dwindling in the brightness at 4 hours so it very well could go 15 hours but I'm sure it'll dim somewhere along the way. I was a little nervous about purchasing an LED lantern for $79.99 because I've seen LED lanterns for around $20-$30 that didn't fulfill their spec promises. However, how I found out about this lantern is from a review I read on a tech blog. They highly recommended it and so I thought I'd take the chance. I have to say that I'm glad I did.

Coast PX20 Dual Color LED Flashlight

I may have mentioned this before but I guess you could say I have a flashlight...flashy lights...blinking lights...lights fetish. I can never have enough flash lights. You just never know when we may be shoved into the "darkness, zombie apocalypse" and you need a battery-operated light. I'll definitely be prepared!

As such, I have another item that I purchased for muliple purposes. One of which is/could be camping. I have the Coast PX20 Dual Color LED Flashlight. I don't have this exact model but it's damn near close. The only difference between mine and this one is the color of the exterior of the flashlight. I have the white aluminum finish while this is more of a black. I've actually had my version for two or more years. I was at a Home Depot store and saw this flashlight.

I previously had purchased from a Frys and lost somewhere into oblivion an Inova XS a few years ago. I liked the Inova a whole lot and it was expensive...something like 40 bucks or so. It was very bright and portable which I liked a lot. I have no idea where it went but I was very disappointed to lose it. I learned about lumens measurements from the Inova because it was my first flashlight to talk about or list the lumens output. This is very useful to know and a very immediate way to compare dozens of flashlights hanging on racks at the stores (although not the only way). The Inova was like 53 lumens and based off of its brightness I knew I wanted something at least 53 lumens if not more. Also, the flood versus spot or a flooding spot vs spotting flood (tee hee).

Hence, the purchase of this Coast flashlight. It rated 125 lumens for the white LEDs and it has a separate switch for a red LED. Having the option of white or red in one flashlight was a bonus. Mainly because I could use the red LED to see but without showing this bright light letting everyone and their dog know where I am whether it be in the woods or in my house. I used the red LED for reading in bed at night sometimes. Probably not the best to read by but it served it's purpose. The construction on the Coast PX20 is no where near as durable (feeling or actual?) as the Inova XS but it was much cheaper...about half the cost. I used this thing on road trips to here and there as well as going hunting—mainly to see things within 30 feet or less—and it worked(s) nicely...up until a point. I'm on my 2nd one.

The first one started having trouble with the white LEDs on/off button. I'd press the button, it would click but the light wouldn't turn on. I could do this anywhere from 1 to 50+ times and it wouldn't turn on. Then one time it would and I'd be clicking so fast out of frustration that I'd turn it right back off. I took it apart, hit it on a table, or whacked it with a pipe wrench and nothing helped. Finally, I said, "Fuck it!" I threw the bitch away. I mulled over whether to purchase another one (exact) or find a different but similar one. Even though I was still hanging on to the anger of losing the Inova and now this obvious manufacturer's default on the Coast, I decided to purchase another one after about four months.

The 2nd one functioned same as the first. I used it quite a bit over the next few months or so then...the white LED on/off switch started sticking. I'd push the button, it'd lock in the 'on' position but no light would come on. I'd push the button again to turn it to 'off.' Unlike the first light where the button would properly click off and on but no light like it wasn't making a connection, this button got a soft feel to the push and would stick like it had gum or gunk in the switch. It almost became a shattered product on the cement floor in my garage because of my anger and frustration. However, I found a temporary fix. I found that if I push on the button a little deeper and then hold it down for just a second, the light turns on. If I do the same again, it turns off. So, basically, the sensitivity of the button has changed to I can't just do a simple push on/off. It's been about six more months now and it works fine with this little caviat. Originally it was a pain in the ass to do but now that I've done it for so long, it's not even something that I think about to do. I do have to mention this technique to anyone who might use it.

So, I would still recommend the Coast PX20—showing $24.93 at HomeDepot.com although the picture showing isn't as silver as my version. I think they may have a 'sort of' updated version in the Coast G35—black only, no silver, and 111 lumens for the white LEDs at $19.99, maybe Coast PX25—although it's only white LEDs at 208 lumens and $39.97, or the Coast TX10 4-Color LED Flashlight—73 lumens for white LEDs but has colors of red, green and blue for $32.97. I have not used or seen these flashlights officially/physically (like at the store) but have seen them on the Home Depot website as well as a Google search.

nanoSTRIKER XL

My last purchase that I haven't actually used yet is the nanoSTRIKER XL from Exotac. Exotac in general has some really cool products. What lead me to the nanoSTRIKER XL was a deal posting on slickdeals.net. If I remember correctly, the nanoSTRIKER XL was on sale for like $20 at the time of this deal but it's regularly priced at $32.95. I read reviews and decided it was worth a $20 chance at having a pretty cool, firestarter. The standard (regular) shipping was pretty fast. I think I got this thing three days after I ordered it. It came in a nice little box. The product itself looks pretty cool. It's bright orange (I opted for this color versus the darker colors) so I can find it easily in a camping tackle or whatever. It's small like 3 1/2 inches and little wider in diameter than a standard No.2 pencil. It's tiny enough to put on your key ring without be obtrusive.

Again, I haven't actually used it but I have confidence it will do what it says and do it well (according to all the testimonials/reviews). I have been looking forward to cooler weather so I can either use it to start my campfires or the firepit at home. If I remember, I will post an update to this post or a reference to it from another regarding my actual usage.



I guess that's about it for the camping toys I have purchased. I am looking to camp more with the cooler weather months approaching in Texas. Right now, it's still 95 degrees and humid at times which makes camping completely miserable especially when you figure in the insects factor, particularly mosquitos.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

In the news today 09/20/2012

Illegal Immigrant Rental Ban Gets Second Hearing

I don't understand why this is an issue. We do not allow businesses (mostly anyway) to do business with illegal businesses or conduct illegal business. Correct? So, why would we allow apartments to rent to illegal immigrants? Is this not doing illegal business? It's kind of like not checking the background of a job applicant and then allowing a child molester to work at a daycare. I guess the employer can always say, "Well, I didn't know." Right?

Just my thoughts on this continued dumbass debate about renting to illegals after reading an article here (while it lasts).

I would not want to live in an apartment complex that knowingly (or didn't care to know) if my neighbors were illegal immigrants. Sure, some of the illegals are just looking for a piece of the "American Dream" but they've already committed one crime (illegal entry into the U.S.), who's to say they aren't willing to do more to not to have to go back to their country?

This is a no-brainer. They have no rights as citizens because they are ILLEGAL. We aren't beating or killing them so there are no human rights violations. Also, I thought most apartments (maybe not motels/hotels) do background checks on their potential tenants anyway based off of the leasing agreement.

I don't know. I just can't get over how fucking stupid this is! I'm done!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Taos, NM July 2012

I thought I'd share a few more links and opinions on places (mostly restaurants) we visited during our trip to Taos, New Mexico this summer.

The second day we were there we went to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. I've been there before and so has the family but we stopped by there once again. Mainly, we stopped there this time because it was on the way to another destination we wanted to visit. This time, however, was a little different than the others. The west side near the rest area was a lot busier than the last visit AND they had one side of the bridge closed due to construction. They were doing something on the east side of the bridge before you cross it as well as painting the bridge white, I think. That's why one half, the sidewalk part anyway, of the bridge was closed. This time there were more vendors selling shit out of the back of trucks, cars, card tables as well as a smoothie bus near the rest area. There were more motorcyclists as well. We were going to walk across the bridge again just for old time's sake but decided it wasn't that big of a necessity. The bridge is still a pretty cool landmark and the scenery on and around the bridge can be breathtaking. Instead of wasting anymore time, we decided to head on to our original destination: Wild Rivers Recreation Area.

The Wild Rivers Recreation Area contains a lot of hiking trails that allow people to hike from designated areas at the top of the Rio Grand Gorge down to the bottom right to the river. That's what we wanted to do, hike, because the last time we visited there were bad wildfires and they would not allow anyone into the Carson Forest or ANY trails because of a burn ban. If you were caught, they'd fine you $5,000. So, this time, we were doing whatever we could before any damn fires decided to jack with our chances to "roam the plains" of New Mexico. Once we entered the Rec Area, we drove for a bit until reaching the first picnic area. We stopped to take some pictures and use the restroom. We moved on down the road to look for a hiking trail. The next area we came to was the first area with a trail down to the river below. I don't recall the exact name of the trail but it said it was a moderate hike at 0.4 miles. We decided this would be a good one to start out on since it was 0.4 miles and we didn't know how much further down the road the next trail was or how long it was or its rating. As always, walking down is always easy. The trail was "maintained" in the sense that it did have large, stacked rocks along the trail to mark it as well as keep it clearer of debris and help keep people from sliding/falling down the side of the Gorge easily. It zigzagged until about 50 feet from the bottom where there were a lot of reed-type plants before reaching the sandy bank of the river. One child said they spotted a snake of some sort black-colored about 3-4 inches in diameter but it slithered away too fast for me to look back and catch a glimpse. Once we got to the bank and then the water, we found a few more snakes about 1/2 inch in diameter and about 6-8 inches long. I guess they were just garden snakes, a kind of grayish color, but I'm not sure. They moved fast on land and water. We decided to trek along the river over large rocks/boulders. Jumping and climbing from rock to rock and occasionally having some "flat" areas to walk along. We walked and climbed about a mile before we realized that we'd have to go back to our original entry trail because there were no others we saw along the way and we didn't know how far the next one was if there was one ahead of us. To add to the strenuous exercise of up and down over rocks and sand, the sun started coming out from behind the originally cloudy sky to make it much hotter than when we started. Luckily, I was carrying 8 20oz water bottles in my backpack along with large bottle of Gatorade and some granola snack bars. I was prepared. The trek back was much harder because we knew where we were going and we were looking forward to getting there as soon as possible because we were getting very tire and hot. I told the kids to take off their shirts and put them in the river to get them wet. It's a fairly fast flowing river in most parts so it's cleaner and way less polluted than more stagnant ones like the nasty Trinity River in Dallas. I told them that the shirt would probably be dry by the time we got back to the start of the trail to go back up the Gorge. We took frequent breaks along the way to make sure we had energy enough t get back up the Gorge. Okay, I wanted to make sure I would have enough energy to make it back up. So after awhile we make it back to the trail to go up. I went through the reedy foliage first because the kids weren't too keen on running into any critters while trekking through it ahead of me. We got through without incidence. The trek up was way harder than down especially after our two mile trek along the river and back. The steepness of the trail was felt (by me mostly) way more going up than down. We made it after 3-4 breaks on the trail where I wanted to be in air conditioning right then and there. We finally made it to the start of the top of the trail where there was this covered picnic table. I took an extended rest here because it was shaded and high enough out of the Gorge where we got a pretty good breeze. It was good times and I wanted to take a nap. Eventually, we got back to the car and decided we'd had enough hiking for the day (it was about 3-4 hours). We originally had grand plans to hike a lot more but we realized we did hike a lot. Not just up and down the Gorge but also the climbing over rocks and boulders along the Rio Grand River and back. So, we got good exercise and the amount of hiking in that we wanted even though it wasn't at multiple locations. Good enough. We drove back to our location in Taos and picked up dinner on the way.

One day we were driving to Santa Fe. We took what they call they high road to Santa Fe. Along this road or a just short jaunt off of it, there is a restaurant called Rancho de Chimayo. I've heard many people brag about this place...the food and the ambiance of it. The restaurant is in what looks like it used to be a residential house that someone expanded as the business grew. It is a nice setting for a restaurant. It reminded me of a southern plantation type house especially on the inside. Not that I've ever really been in one but what I've seen portrayed in TV/movies. There is no air conditioning in the place and it didn't seem to need it at the time we visited which was about 11:30 a.m. They have some quaint outdoor seating that you have to climb stairs to reach. It's like the front parking lot area of the restaurant is on flatland but behind the house there is a big hill that they had to expand into and up. After we were done eating and checked out, we walked up the stairs to an area that I did not know was there. At the very top of this outdoor area of the restaurant, there is a aquaduct (I guess that's what the locals would call it). It's a modern-type aquaduct in the sense that instead of the natural dirt/mud or wooden it was more like a cemented channel. It was only about two feet wide. I was told that this is the same channel that is used by many of the locals to get water. The aquaduct comes down the mountain bringing the water from melted snow or rains to the people below. I noticed it was almost overflowing and they said it was unusually high this year. That's a good thing I guess but I don't know if it is as a local because too much water means too much rain or too much melting...who knows. Anyway, all the food we ordered but one entree was pretty good. I mean nothing made me say, "Damn!" but not many things do. The entree that lacked in taste and goodness was the stuffed sopapilla. The plain sopapillas with honey were good but this entree was not. The inside was fairly tasty, it was like taco fillings inside, but the red sauce on the outside tasted like it was syphoned from a Spaghettios can. Don't get me wrong. I like Spaghettios with its sauce but I expected something more from a "fancy" restaurant entree. We finally left for Santa Fe. I'd talk about Santa Fe and what we did there (really just visited the Indian Museum) but this is a Taos-ish post.

Another popular venue that we were told about is The Old Blinking Light which is now out of business. My wife and kids had eaten at this place a couple of years before with my in-laws but I did not take that trip with them and therefore missed this supposedly "great" place. We happened to stop by this place on the way to somewhere else because it has a liquor store attached to the restaurant building. Well, apparently the liquor store is the only thing left operational. I guess people will always go out to buy liquor no matter how bad the economy is but they won't always go out to eat. So, I can't give any opinions on the restaurant (and wouldn't have anyway if it was still open because we were only stopping by to get wine and not eat at the restaurant) but I can tell you that the entire place looks like s dive. The areas of the restaurant were gutted and the liquor store felt more like a bait and tackle shop.

One area of note is the Taos Ski Resort. We didn't visit it this year but we have previously. It's interesting that a ski resort is open during the summer. It's smart for business, very smart. Seasonal business is good or even great but when there are multiple ski resorts in the general 10-50 mile radius it's good to be able to make some dough during the off-season. So, the Taos Ski Resort is 'open' during the summer. It's mainly for the hiking trails, some restaurants, some shops, and the ski lift. That's right. They run the ski lift during the summer. I've never been on one but I wasn't going to miss out on the opportunity. My youngest is scared of heights and was scared shitless to go on the lift but did it. It's kind of freaky. To be on this bench seat hovering and climbing over rugged, mountain terrain below at anywhere from 30 feet to 100 feet or more is kind of nerve racking. I think it's one thing to see snow (not from personal experience) because it shows a uniform, flat surface but to see the jagged rocks and shit is a bit daunting. To know that you could easily slip off the bench or the cable could snap, making you 'splat' on the terrain below is not a pleasant thought. To add to the nerves, whenever someone gets on or off the lift, it slows down a bit which makes the liftchair you are on sway in a teeth-chatter-causing way. After a few times, you get used to it but when it's the 1st one or two, it makes you want to piss yourself! Anyway, the base is at 9,207 feet and the ride up from there was about 10-15 minutes. I say that put us up around 10-11,000 feet. We hung out at the this area for a little bit taking pictures of the landscape and breathtaking views. We started to walk up a trail towards Wheeler Peak but the youngest started feeling light-headed. Part of it was the stress of not wanting to get on the lift in the first place and then adding the altitude probably didn't help. I had the young one rest (lay down on a picnic) bench a little while before we rode the lift back down to get something to eat and drink to help overcome this dizziness feeling. After about half an hour, we rode back up. I didn't want to stress the kids out too much so we didn't try the trail again to Wheeler Peak. I'd say we got up the trail the first time to about 12,000 feet before having to turn around so I'd say we were close enough to the Peak's height of 13,161 feet. How much difference could we see in 1,000 feet of forest and mountains? Not much. We rode around the lift a few more times before getting a little bored. The area was getting a few more guests for the restaurants, shops and lift so we decided we done for the day. We'd been there for at least 3-4 hours. It was a great, beautiful day to enjoy nature and the vast scenery. The family will remember that visit for years to come within our memories as well as actual photos and video.



Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012), Bounty Hunters (2011), Bad Ass (2012)

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012). I saw this movie before it came out. I'm just getting a chance to finish the post I started. A neighbor/buddy of is part of some film group. I forget the exact name of it but he and his wife paid something like $40 each to get "free" tickets to the premieres of certain movies. His wife had plans and so he had an extra ticket. The premiere had a pretty good turn out. I guess there are a lot of people affiliated with this film group.

The movie isn't full of high action or anything like that but it was pretty good. It's kind of an artsy flick but in a good way. It definitely didn't end up the way I thought it would. It's been out a while at theaters now so I don't feel as special as I did the day I saw it. Oh well.

Final verdict: I liked this movie. It was quirky and lacked my normal requirement of T&A, action, and some violence but it was still a good movie. Maybe like Terms of Endearment. I think it's worth a watch.


Bounty Hunters [aka Bail Enforcers] (2011). T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E-! I hope this makes it crystal clear what I thought about this movie. I thought it was going to be at least a decent action/adventure movie but I was wrong...very, very wrong. I saw this on Netflix as a "newly added" movie under the action genre (at the time I watched it, anyway). I started watching it and I knew right off that it was a sad excuse for a movie. I don't know where producers get the support or why they back such crap, but it seems to be a regular thing these days. And all the crappy movies tend to end up on Netflix!

Apparently this "starred" WWE Diva, Trish Stratus. She's kind of hot. She's definitely big breasted. SHE DID NOT GET NUDE OR TOPLESS AT ALL. She did get dressed up in this skimpy little private school girl outfit for her job as a waitress at a nudie bar but it was of no consequence and gave no excitement to the viewer. I've said it before and I'll say it many times again, when the acting sucks monkey nuts the only thing that could possibly make the movie tolerable is plenty of T & A!

The action aka fight scenes were so totally and obviously choreographed to include whatever moves she may have learned or copied during her time with the WWE that I almost thought I was (re)watching the movie Haywire. There was some comedic value with a male actor that was Trisha's character's fellow bounty hunter. He was this huge muscular guy that keeps getting his ass kicked by everyone including this 90-lb-Kung-Fu-Asian girl. But again, the fight scenes were so choreographed that they would have been better off filming them in slow-mo and then speeding it up to real time to make it look more believable.

Final verdict: The best thing about this movie is the movie poster/cover. Although I didn't like the movie Haywire at all, compared to this one, it's better but I still wouldn't recommend either.


Bad Ass (2012). Danny Trejo has come a long way. From playing a bad guy who's usually scarred, angry, mean, and brutal to playing light-hearted roles (like in Spy Kids) and even a "hero"-type (in Machete or Bad Ass).

Danny's starting to look his age. Wait, he looked his 'now' age years ago. He's still pretty built in a fatter old guy kind of way. I wouldn't want to meet his ass in the street whether he was playing a good or bad guy.

The movie starts out simple enough. It gives a good explanation of Danny's character's past, where he is now and why. The storyline is loosely based on a video on YouTube that went viral regarding a fight on a bus. Apparently, the movie is more inspirational/good-samaritan based than the actual video. There are parts that are comedic and unbelievable but it's all in good fun. There are a couple of farfetched scenes like the young, hot neighbor falling for the old, scary bastard that is "Bad Ass." The action is not non-stop but it also doesn't have boring lulls in the dialogue/storyline. I don't know what the cost of this movie was but I bet it could have been one of those $30,000 budget movies that make $2-$5 million. That's a good turnaround. I don't know if that's true but it could've happened. Anyway...

Final verdict: If you have some down time and you want to watch an entertaining movie, this could be a decent choice. I wouldn't pay $10 at a movie theater to see this but I would pay $.99-$3.99 to watch it on DVD.


Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Laura Prepon from "That '70s Show"

This is Laura Prepon. You'll probably know/remember her as Donna from That '70s Show. She's hot...really hot. She was always kind of plain Jane in the show but she was still always naturally hot! She grew (in two places in particular) to be very attractive. Way too pretty for Eric Forman!

I tried to find out what else she did after That '70s Show but she hasn't really done much. I think a couple of made-for-TV shows and that's about it. Too bad. I'd like to see her drop the top for some upcoming movies. Maybe even a Playboy spread.

C'mon Donna, do it!

Michael Strahan is Regis Philbin's replacement?

I don't watch "Live!" but I would not have thought a former football player would become the new co-host.

I guess it goes to show that if you don't try-out/audition (like Michael Strahan), you never know what could happen. You could end up having to sit next to the annoying Kelly Ripa if that's what you so desire.

 

That's all I got to say about that!
 

R.I.P. Michael Clarke Duncan

I won't go into his passing too much because you can see/read it all over the web. I just gotta say that Michael Clarke Duncan seemed like he was a genuinely nice, down-to-earth guy. It's sad to know that he has passed.

Dead man is no longer walking...


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Diane Neal aka A.D.A. Casey Novak from L&O:SVU

I did not know that this woman



is the same as this woman



In case you didn't know, this is Diane Neal. She plays A.D.A. Casey Novak on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. I always thought she was attractive in a simple, natural beauty kind of way.

I came across her name today because I was watching the movie Dracula III: Legacy. I haven't actually seen her in the movie...yet...at least I don't think so but I was trying to find out who another woman in the movie was and then saw the 1st picture and then the name Diane Neal and then I found out who she was and where I'd recognize her from.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share that little tidbit.

Carry on...


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fall 2012 semester has started.

After years and years of taking classes, it is finally nice to not have to worry about scheduling. No scheduling of the classes. No scheduling of my work hours to make up the time I miss for being in class. No scheduling around classes to make sure I make my kids' events.

I know I graduated in May but it really didn't seem official until I didn't have to register and attend class this week. In fact, I still can't believe I am done.

I don't feel any different. I thought it would be like having my cherry popped and I'd feel different. I don't though. I just feel like I have more time to do absolutely nothing of worth now.

Weird!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wild Things Foursome (2010) and Diamonds in the Rough (2005)

This was actually started before my most recent movie "reviews" that I've posted but I had forgotten about it. I decided not to edit/rewrite it to reflect this oversight so take this for what it's worth.



I was flicking around YouTube and found that they have movies you can watch. I am not paying for any since I already pay for BB Total Access and Netflix but I did check out their free section. I ran across the two movie below and thought I'd give them a try. I remember watching Wild Things with Denise Richards, Neve Campbell, Kevin Bacon and Matt Dillon thinking (back then) it was a pretty good movie. I mean what red-blooded boy/man doesn't have the scene where Neve and Denise are making out while Matt pours champagne over their naked bodies, mainly Denise's boobs, etched into the back of their minds!? I saw Wild Things 2 a year or more ago...I guess around the time I got Netflix. I wasn't too impressed with it. It had already been done and the story line was basically the same but they played up the lesbianism more. So, I figured how bad could sequels 3 and 4 be, right? I apparently watched them out of order.

Wild Things: Foursome (2010). One of the main actress roles, is done by Marnette Patterson. She's pretty attractive and after watching the 'sex' scenes (there's never really any sex going on), it seems she is the only one that DOESN'T show her boobs! What the hell gives with that. 2 out of 3 girls go topless but one holds on to her moral compass? Then what is she even doing in this movie. It's not like she is this stellar actress for this highly sought after role! Thoroughly disappointed!

Jillian Murray and Jessie Nickson do drop the tops and they look gorgeous! Again, why these two showed the ta-tas and Marnette did not is beyond me. I would think there would be some fairness issues but I guess I don't know how that works in "the business."

The movie is predictable. It's almost exactly like the other "Wild Things" movies or just about any other movie based on the same concept. The acting wasn't horrible. It was just...well...predictable. Even the boobage couldn't make this movie better...although the boobage was pretty nice!

Final Verdict: If you've seen the first Wild Things, then you can surely pass on this one. If you've seen at least one of these movies out of order, you won't need to see the others although the first one was the best of them all.

Wild Things: Diamonds in the Rough (2005). I'm not even going to waste time on this movie. As mentioned above, it is EXACTLY the same movie as the others just different sets of tits and ass. Very nice tits and ass but alas, they couldn't save this movie either.

Everybody screws everybody to try and blackmail or literally screw people out of money or jewels. The two ladies win and then they start to distrust each other. One or both end up dying and someone else ends up "winning."

Sometimes I wonder how movies get made. It's not the pirating that causes losses to the movie industry. It's wasting any amount of cash on shit like this!

Final verdict: Skip this one. Watch the first one.

Monday, August 13, 2012

London Boulevard (2010)

London Boulevard. This wasn't too bad of a movie. It was a little slow to begin with but it got better as it progressed. I figured this movie wouldn't totally suck since it was made in 2010 and it had Colin Farrell in it. Yeah, yeah, I know that just because Colin's in the movie doesn't automatically make the movie good. That's not what I meant. I meant that it couldn't royally suck (could it?).

Keira Knightley was in it too but she didn't have a very exciting role and she wasn't very memorable in it either. She's kind of attractive in a weird kind of way but unattractive in another. Make sense?

Anyway, other than Colin, the roles I remember were by David Thewlis and Ben Chaplin.

The movie did not end like I thought it would which was quite disappointing. It was really kind of a let down. But I moved on. After watching, I was kind of surprised that Colin would have picked this movie to star in since I would think he is a little more popular than this movie would lead one to believe. Maybe he was strapped for cash or did someone a favor. I don't know.

Final verdict: If you already have Netflix or a Blockbuster plan and you got absolutely nothing else to do, this might be a good time to watch this movie. It didn't keep my interest initially (hence the comment about it starting off slow) and I watched it over a couple of days via Netflix.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

More movies I've seen June 12th to July 10th

More movies that I've got to catch up on with "reviews."

Pineapple (2008). I found this craptastic movie via YouTube's free movies. I must say that the description and movie art is what made me take a chance on viewing this one. I thought "exotic dancer...sexual experimentation" meant a bearable movie.

I must admit this movie severely challenged my theory of female nudity makes movies better. Unfortunately, there was basically one woman that got nude (I think there may have been some brief shots of others but obviously not memorable enough for me to recall) and this woman was not very alluring. She wasn't ugly but she wasn't someone I felt I needed to see nude time and time again...and again.

Final verdict: It's not worth the bandwith. You can surely find better entertainment somewhere else other than this movie.

Cinderella 2000 (1977). This was another YouTube free movie. I was intrigued by the word "soft-porn" in the synopsis. Tha's about all the interest this movie provided.

I know it's a movie from 1977 but I expected it to be more pushing-the-boundaries that it was. In fact, the only boundary it pushed was my level of tolerance. The acting was beyond horrible. And I was looking for the "soft porn" but never did I see ANYTHING that would make me think of "soft porn." I think the B-movies with the likes of Shannon Tweed or Joan Severance had more T&A sex scenes.

Final verdict: This movie provided no entertainment value at all. It should be archived in the tomb of crappiest movies of all time. I ended up fast forwarding through much of the movie.

Single White Female 2: The Psycho (2005). One more of the free movies of YouTube. I remember the first Single White Female and thought it was a pretty decent flick. It didn't hurt that it had the hotness of Bridget Fonda in it.

However, this movie was not so good. In fact, it could be said this was an exact replica of the first movie just with different actors. The two main female leads and the one sub-main female lead were pretty attractive. The problem is that none of them showed their boobies. Oh we had some side boob, some bottom boob, but there was no full-on frontal boob. It was quite disappointing, especially when everyone of the women were trying to sleep with each other or other men. Very disheartening that they didn't provide the boob shots!

Final Verdict: If you've seen the first one, you've seen this one too but better. If you've seen this one but not the first, you missed out on a better version. It might be worth watching the first after this one but why waste any more of your time.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011). I heard the American version of this movie was the bomb. I didn't have high expectations because I saw the Swedish version and was not impressed. With the hype from many people about "these exciting book(s)" being made into a movie (Swedish version), I did expect a better Swedish "Tattoo" movie. Now the movie wasn't totally worthless, I did enjoy the nudity of Noomi Rapace albeit in a weird kind of way because she was way too skinny for my preferences and the hairy arm pits were a little distracting.

Anyway, I got a little sidetracked there. I don't want to write on tehe 2009 movie but the 2011 movie. But it's hard because I feel the same about both movies.

So, I like Daniel Craig as an actor to an extent. He's a little typecast in the sense that he's always playing a violent or villain role: see Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Defiance and Cowboys & Aliens. He just seems angry. I didn't believe him as a washed up journalist. He looked more like a guy that could make lemonade when given lemons.

Rooney Mara's portrayal of Lisbeth made me feel like I was watching the 2009 Swedish version. In my opinion, there was almost no difference between Rooney or Noomi's portrayal. They were both way too skinny and the wardrobe choices were very similar across both movies. I guess Rooney didn't have hairy or as hairy arm pits.

Overall, the movie seemed more like a digital reproduction of the original. Kind of like when you see those old color Disney animated movies and they say stuff like "digitally remastered." That's about what I got with this movie. I mean the actors portraying the characters were different and the filming looked like the difference between VHS and miniDV but the storyline and wardrobe was just too similar for me. It had me wondering why the hell they made an American version. Is it because Americans have to prove they can do things better? Maybe in some instance, but with this movie I don't think they did any better.

Seeing Daniel Craig walking around in the movie I was expecting to see a fight break out every other second because, to me, the vibe of the movie had more of his version of a 007 movie. I truly feel like I could have never seen this movie and still "seen" it because I saw the 2009 version.

Final verdict: It seemed to have garnered a lot of good reviews and positive opinions. I'm not sure why because overall it was no different than the Swedish version. I felt the same way after seeing this movie as the Swedish version: are the books better or am I missing something? If you want to see this movie, go ahead because it's not an overall disappointment. I think I'm more disappointed because I already saw this movie with Swedish audio and English subtitles.

Gone (2012). First let me start by saying I have a crush on Amanda Seyfried since I saw her in Big Love. She has a natural prettiness to her but she also has some very big breasts. I pined for her to show these lovely lumps everytime I saw a new episode of Big Love. She came very close in one episode but I don't think she ever did during the show...I'm not totally sure because I haven't seen the last two seasons of the series. Then I started hearing about her role in Jennifer's Body. I thought for sure she'd be showing some boobage but I was sorely disappointed. Doubly disappointed because the "she's-pretty-now-but-she-won't-age-well" Megan Fox didn't get naked either. Many reviewers said she got naked but it was false nakedness. Megan was wearing skin-colored pasties. Then I started hearing even more rumors about her role in Chloe. These rumors seemed to be more definitive in their assessment of her REALLY showing boobage and some scenes with Julianne Moore. Bonus having the aging Julianne looking damn hot and showing her nakedness! Amanda made a few more movies that I hoped for boob-flashing but I didn't fully expect it as it didn't fall in with the storyline of the movie. Alignment is not always necessary but storyline and character usually are good signs of what to expect. So, then we come to Gone. Something about the synopsis made me have hopes of Amanda boobies. Forewarning, the only Amanda boobies you get to see are braless shirts/tanks. It's okay though because I've seen them and I can visualize them in my head when I see her.

Now for the movie. It wasn't a bad movie. I think it was interesting concept. Girl gets kidnapped. Girl luckily escapes. Girl commits herself to help deal with the memories of the ordeal. Girl gets out and lives with "sane" sister. Girl's sister disappears. Girl reports it to the police and they now label her Crazy girl even though she committed herself and wasn't officially diagnosed as crazy. No authority will listen to or take crazy girl serious. Crazy girl knows her sister has been kidnapped by the same person she escaped from. Fuck the police—Crazy girl is determined to find and save her sister!

The movie had parts where things just wouldn't happen. Would the detectives really ignore her concerns? Instead of investigating would they really look to arrest her for carrying a weapon because she was formerly but voluntarily committed? She carries a weapon because the criminal she escaped from is still out there...DUH! There were just some frustrating parts that I just couldn't believe would happen but maybe that was the director's point. If so, he did a good job then. If not, it was just too predictable and obvious and made for a not-so-enjoyable movie.

Final verdict: I guess you won't be disappointed if you watch this movie. Don't think about it too much and you'd enjoy it. "Anal"-yze it and you might half-heartedly enjoy it. I've seen worse, much worse. It seems like movies that want to make you think aren't doing a very good job of expressing that in the sense of the predictability of some of the occurrences in the movies.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dining at 5 Star Burgers in Taos, New Mexico

Took my kids to 5 Star Burgers in Taos, New Mexico. We went for lunch on the recommendation from another person we know that just happened to be in Taos and already dined here.

After squeezing into our parking place because some dipshit moron doesn't know how to park into one space, we entered the doors to 5 Star Burgers. An older waitress approached us and sat us at a table/booth near the door. It wasn't a bad seat until the weather started getting rainy-like outside and then everytime someone opened the door to come in or go out, it was windy at our table! Luckily, this was few and far between so it was tolerable.

The woman took our drink orders as soon as we were seated and said that so-so (I didn't get the name she said) will be with you in a little bit. "In a little bit" must mean something different in Taos than in my head.

It was about 10-15 minutes and we still had our menus on our table and no one had come to take our order. The father of the family on the table/booth next to ours said something to me that I didn't catch at first. He repeated, saying, "Hey bro, it looks like they've forgotten about you. Nobody has taken your order, yet?" I said, "Yes, luckily we're not in a hurry but it would be nice if someone came by." He said, "Where you guys from? We are from Las Vegas." I said, "We drove through Las Vegas on the way to Taos. We are from Dallas." He said, "That's the problem with these places. You go somewhere that has good service but terrible food. And then other places have good food and terrible service." I said, "It's been the latter for us."

About five minutes later, the gentleman waves over a waitress and says, "Excuse me. I've already paid out my ticket but this nice man and his two kids have been sitting here for some time and haven't had their order taken!" She looked at me and said, "So, are you saying you'd like to place your order now?" I said, "Well, yes that would be a good thing!" She took our order and walked away. I thanked the man from Las Vegas as he rose to leave the restaurant. He told me to "have a great day and enjoy our vacation."

After the Las Vegas man leaves, the three of us see our waitress (her name was Monica) speak to one of her coworkers while pointing in our direction. I don't know what was said but we assumed it wasn't good. Once again, we already hadn't started well with dining in a restaurant in Taos.

We got our food about ten minutes after ordering. I ordered the Bison Burger medium rare with Swiss cheese, recommended by the Las Vegas man, while my kids decided to split the Taos Burger and a side of fries. The waitress was very nice and cordial and all so I guess the initial "lack of attention problem" was behind us. This was further cemented as the case as she was very attentive to ask about needing condiments as well as her quick response to have a Diet Pepsi ready to replace my almost-done Diet Pepsi.

The fries were very good. I'm not a connoisseur but I've had me many a fry and these were at least in the top five. The kids thought they were pretty good as well. They also said the Taos burger was pretty good. It was juicy, tasty and big enough for them to share. It did come with fried green chili peppers that they didn't particularly like but did like the burger overall! I thought the Bison Burger was pretty good. It was juicy, cooked like I asked and pretty tasty. I can't say it's better than any other bison burger that I've had but I wasn't disappointed.

Checking out was quick and painless unlike my vist to Applebee's. I think I left Monica a 20% tip even though initially we had to wait to order. She did make up for it with her attentiveness after the fact.

I guess I would recommend 5 Star Burgers for their fairly tasty burgers but I would definitely enter the Taos location knowing that you should not be in a rush to eat and run.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dining at Applebee's in Taos, New Mexico

Took my two kids to Applebee's in Taos. We were promptly seated but took a little bit to get waited on just for our drink order. We were 1 of 3 tables...1 person at 1 tbl, 2 at another, and 3 at our table...Dalena was working at the time. I heard her tell a coworker she was swamped. The 1 person was almost done with his meal. The 2 people had already ordered and we only had our drinks. I've worked as a waiter and that in no way is called SWAMPED! Dalena was very nice and apologetic though. I just don't think waiting is for her as it requires multitasking and she didn't seem to have that skill.

Anyway, we ordered a full rack of baby back ribs with fries, the grilled garlic sirloin (medium rare) with a cream spinach filled portabello(sp?) mushroom cap topped with parmesan cheese, and the classic wings with honey bbq flavor. She read back our order correctly as well.

About 5-10 minutes later, a "chef" (I assume) came to me and said that they are out of the cream spinach. I was actually looking forward to it and joked with him about leaving. I asked if he had or recommended anything else to fill the mushroom cap. He um-ed and uh-ed and said "Well...?" I finally said how about creamy mashed potatoes. He said, "Ok."

About 10 minutes later, we get our food. The ribs looked fine but how can you mess them up? My sirloin looked good but the portabello cap was nowhere to be seen. I did have a huge portion of mashed potatoes and it seems that the meal already came with potato chunks which I must have missed. The classic wings looked good too. We started to dig in.

My youngest loved the ribs and fries. Again, how can you mess these up?

I found the portabello cap under the generous serving of mashed potatoes. I ate it and the mashed potatoes but not the potato chunks...not because they were bad but because I just wanted the mashed potatoes. The sirloin was cooked half right. Somehow they were able to cook half the sirloin at medium rare and the other half at medium. That's new for me as I've only experienced the entire steak under or over cooked. It was still flavorful so I did not complain.

My oldest bit into the classic wings to find that 1) they were boneless and 2) they were original/classic flavor. I waived over Dalena and told her the order was for the classic bone-in wing with honey bbq flavoring. She proceeded to tell me that I ordered it wrong. She said she heard boneless classic wing and classic meant the typical buffalo spice flavor. I told her that boneless or bone-in is not the problem but we wanted honey bbq. I said she even read back our order stating bone-in with honey bbq. So, this time I clearly stated AGAIN we wanted bone-in with honey bbq flavoring. She was prompt with putting in the correct order and we got it within 10 minutes.

I judge a waitperson's tip partly on how effective they are with refilling my drink. I drink soda like some people chug beer. If I have to wait for my next sip too long, the tip goes down. Dalena was very good with all our refills...especially mine.

Finally, it came time to pay the check. When she brought the check, she explained how she had to add then remove the wings to get it to the kitchen and blah, blah, blah. All I cared is that I wasn't double-charge because we would have had major issues if it was.

By this time the two other tables had left (-3 ppl) and she gained two other tables (a family of 3 on each of the two). She had barely taken the drink order of the table behind us. Again, she felt overwhelmed. She passed our table and grabbed our payment so quickly that I didn't get a chance to ask her for a to-go box BUT she also never asked even though half a rack of ribs were left as well as half the wings. So, I get up and walk toward the men's room which happens to be right next to the register where she's putting in the order for the table behind us. As I approach, I hear her tell a coworker that the guy (at table behind us) wants a Miller Lite but "there isn't even a Miller Lite choice on the register." I reach the register and I ask her for one to-go box while I think to myself that the restaurant probably wouln't sell a beer that isn't in the register/computer. I don't know that for a fact but it was just curious how frazzled she was.

I returned to the table and write out my check with the tip. The tab was $51.21. I almost always start out the tip percentage at 20% for true waitstaff—not those buffet restaurants where someone clears your used plate and refills your cup like at Golden Corral or China Super Buffet. Because Dalena messed up the wings and tried to blame it on me, I had to go below the 20%. I almost just did 15% which I typically don't go below because I've been there as a waitperson and know how it sucks. However, I decided she did make it right and after fixing the order, she apologized for the error. I decided to go with 17%.

My overall experience with this Applebee's is that I will not be stopping in again when I'm in Taos nor will I be recommending it to anyone I know who may be visiting Taos. With the lack of having the actual food items to serve that are listed in the menu and the just-acceptable service, I cannot say it was a good experience for us. I have been to Applebee's in Dallas, Texas without any issues quite a few times so maybe it's just a Taos thing.

Buckyballs

I saw an article today on Gizmodo about Buckyballs being banned by the Feds (linked to story while it lasts). I've never purchased or used Buckyballs. I've seen the little cubes holding them and thought, "Cool, I'd like to buy those just because," and then I'd see the price and think, "I'm not paying that much for a whimsical item."

However, banning this product because it poses a hazard to children is over-the-top freaking ridiculous! I fully understand the hazards, somewhat severe, these could pose to children, hell even some adults, but that's not a valid enough reason to just ban Buckyballs.

If they ban shit on the potential hazards it poses to stupid, uneducated, ill-raised, irresponsible children, then they should ban other products that are "adult only" like:
  • Spray paint—18 or older to purchase but it doesn't stop children from using, playing with, spraying in own eyes or inhaling. BAN IT!
  • Super glue—Most places require you to be 18 or over purchase because of the inhalant factor kids like to use it for. I've seen stories and have had similar incidents myself with super gluing fingers, hands, lips and clothing as a kid. BAN IT!
  • Guns—Purchased by "responsible" adults based on background checks and how many accidental deaths have occurred with children finding the guns and shooting themselves, their sibling or their friends? BAN IT!
I think you get the ridiculousness I'm trying to share.

My final thoughts are it's Nature's way of thinning the herd and survival of the fittest. The kids will either die from their stupidity or learn from it. Either way, we are all better off with either outcome! Some would say I'd think different if it were my kids. Maybe or maybe not. I'd be worried and hope they lived to learn from it. I would think that my kid was a dumb ass for doing it but every kid does something stupid more than once throughout their childhood. It'd also be kind of funny. But in the end, they lived; they learned; and we could laugh about it after the fact.

Again, I know doing stupid things way more than the average male growing up and I've survived. I don't look back and think it was a product's fault. I knew better and just didn't listen to my parents or the label warnings (after being able to read). It's human nature to be a dumb ass every now and then. It's not the manufacturer's, company's, or product's fault. But we get no money when we, ourselves, accept the blame.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Groupon advertising

I'd have to say this is a pretty good advertisement for boob enhancements...err...skydiving.


It doesn't make me want to purchase the Groupon or go skydiving but it does make me think the boobs!


Friday, July 13, 2012

Movies I've seen from June 1st to June 11th

I've been able to watch a few movies over the past couple of weeks but haven't had a chance to do my lame review type thing with them. Hey, at least I'm honest and direct to the point with my "reviews." So, on with it...

Chronicle (2012). This movie wasn't too bad. It was a little slow to begin and it didn't get much faster until almost the very end. The majority of the video was shot in the "Blair Witch" style—a character in the movie videotapes everything which essentially becomes the movie. The plot was somewhat predictable because the kid who gets picked on the most ends up not being able to be mature about his new-found powers and then all hell breaks loose.

I initially got a "Heroes" vibe from the movie with the kids getting their powers and having (trying) to stay incognito. With the previews and trailers that were shown up until the movie coming out, I expected a little more action, adventure and excitement. But instead I got more of a home video, amateur video, viewing experience...Oh, like that other movie with the alien thingy...um...Cloverfield. Yeah, lame like that. One of the few exciting parts was when the guys figured out how to fly. How cool would it be to do that? The way it was portrayed with the guys' excitement and all was very good.

Final verdict: Watch it if you have to but I wouldn't seek it out. It's a forgettable movie.

The Grey (2012). I don't know why but I've always liked Liam Neeson. Luckily, most of his movies have been decent and watchable. This was no different but it wasn't one of his best.

I've come to realize that Liam Neeson is a master of all things in many of his movies. In The Phantom Menace, he was a Jedi Master skilled in "hocus pocus." In Taken, he was a master in finding people, places and things when there is nothing more than a dust mite for a clue. In Unknown, he was a Billy Badass spy without a memory of that but was able to still find out who he really was (later) with nothing more than a dust mite for a clue.

In The Grey, Liam Neeson is a master of wolves. He knows their types and their habits and he kills them to protect those that work for the rich oil companies in the most barren places. The plane all these workers are on crashes in frozen Hell somewhere and it becomes a fight for survival against the elements but especially the overly intelligent wolves. I mean I know wolves or pack animals in general are pretty smart but these wolves were on steroids!

Anyway, the movie played out fairly well and one by one the survivors are killed. Throughout the movie though, it is mentioned that they are either hungry or feel threatened and that's why they are as vicious as they are. Well, the aren't really eating all the victims because when they attack one, they are ready to attack another instead of eating the first one. So, I guess this should lead to that fact they feel threatened and aren't hungry even though they are in the MIDDLE OF FUCKING NOWHERE BUT SNOW land.

The movie didn't really have a definitive ending. Liam's character is obviously the only one still alive and he decides to take a stand with broken bottles taped to his hands like brass knuckles. Yes, boy and girls, it the freezing depths of -40 below, electrical tape still adheres! The movie ends without knowing what really happened but there is an assumption that he died but not without taking a few of the wolfy bastards with him.

Final verdict: The movie was interesting enough. Almost thought it might become like Alive and a character actually mentioned this movie, but it was it's own storyline. It was overly or consistently exciting, some parts predictable and expected, but it also was dragged out too badly. I would say this is a pass unless you just want to quell your curiosity about how the movie is for yourself. If that's the case, borrow it from a friend or wait for it to be on Netflix so it'll fall under your already paid monthly fee.

The Woman in Black (2012). This movie was quite slow. It had its moments but overall it dragged. The storyline has been done before, if not exactly the same very similarly. It was interesting to see Daniel Radcliffe in something other than Harry Potter but I found myself expecting the other characters in the movie to call him "Harry" in the British accent. On more than one occasion my youngest and I were waiting for him to say, "Expelliarmus," "Lumos" or "Wingardium Leviosa."

The rating for this movie is PG-13 but I think I've seen worse in the Harry Potter movies or even in some made-for-TV SyFy channel flicks.

The movie is dark in filming and in nature. I think it depended too much on the lighting and the eerie music and just general shit like that. I think I imagine it as more of a book than a movie. I'd probably like the descriptive writing of the scenes in a book versus seeing it poorly done in the movie.

Final verdict: Wait until next time when "Harry" tries to depart from what he is known for because this isn't going to change that.

Against the Dark (2008). Curiosity got the better of me on this one. This kept popping up in my Netflix "recommendations." I guess the system has picked up on the fact that I watch random shit...and sometimes the movies are literally just that...SHIT! So, I took a stab in the "dark." Ha! See what I just did there?

Anyway, this is typical Steven Seagal fodder. I just realized his last name is sea gal. Is that some kind of mermaid or something? Oops! Back on focus. This is better than some of his latest but it still was bad! Seagal is part of a elite "cleaning crew"—when the government fucks up they go in and clean it up. What's funny is this elite team has two pretty hot chicks in 6-inch stilettos and Matrix-style clothing, two fairly hulking guys in cut-off shirts and then Seagal in typical Seagal regalia...black shirt, pants, boots and trench-type coat walking around with just a Samurai sword draped over his arm or shoulder.

Seagal and his team are sent to eliminate vampire-types from a quarantined area and only have so long to do it as well as find non-contaminated survivors. Everyone in Seagal's team is eventually eliminated (except for one guy, I think but can't remember for sure). I think the area was bombed and contamination spread was averted.

Final verdict: Like always and before, let me waste the 90-120 minutes of my life watching this so you don't have to. You can watch any Barney & Friends episode and get more entertainment and enjoyment out of it than watching this movie!

The Art of War III: Retribution (2009). This is a sad, sad follow-up to The Art of War I & II. I mean "II" was a downgrade from "I" but this is leaps and strides way worse. If I dare, and I do dare, this is on par with "Against the Dark."

The fighting, if you can call it that, was just horrible. I think I've seen worse fighting in cheesy 80s movies. This was made in 2009! I can't believe the amount of SHIT movies they produce even if it may be straight to DVD. I'd hire the salesman that pitched this movie to investors. He probably sold them some ocean front property in Arizona as well.

This movie was so freaking awesome that I can't remember a single scene. I remember the fight scenes were lame but I just don't remember what they were or any other scenes of the movie.

Final verdict: If the only thing you know about this movie is that I wrote up a half-assed 'review' of it, keep it that way.

The Air I Breathe (2008). This is one of those multiple characters, multiple stories and how they intertwine with and affect each other without knowing it. I didn't know what to expect with this movie but I figured it couldn't be too bad since it had some fairly well-known actors in it like Kevin Bacon, Brendan Fraser, Andy Garcia, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Forest Whitaker, and Kelly Hu. But sometimes that's not enough.

I would say that it was a decent movie. It wasn't overwhelming but it also wasn't underwhelming. It kept my attention but at times just barely. Just like many other movies that weave many stories into one, it did do a good job at that.

Final verdict: It had its moments. It wasn't consistently fast-paced nor did it drag. It had a decent interwoven storyline and might prove very interesting to others than me. I watched it in two sittings but that's just because I started watching it at work and then a day or so passed before I remembered that I was watching it and needed to complete it.

Blood & Chocolate (2007). The synopsis of this movie and falling under "horror" on Netflix made me think this would be a good (or okay) movie to watch. I was wrong. I thought that being a paranormal-type movie about wolves that it would at least have some female nudity but I was gravely mistaken! I felt like I was watching a made-for-tv Disney or Nickelodeon movie.

The acting was sub-par and the filming was just as bad. I gave this movie more chances than I typically do and it never came to change my disappointment. The graphics were terrible and did I mention that the acting was absolutely horrible?

Final verdict: Read the Twilight books or watch the Twilight movies. Hell, even watch the movie called Wolfen from the 80s and it is still better than this movie. So don't bother even taking a second glance at this movie.

Shark Night (2011). Still on my hunt for an interesting action "horror" movie, I ran across this little dingleberry on the anus of shit films!

I came to find out later when I looked for the movie link on IMDB that this was actually in "3D". Oh no, this movie was even greater shit than it was before!

I thought there were scenes that looked like they were meant for 3D but I didn't pay much attention to the movie title or description. What I thought was this: College kids going away for fun: TITS are sure to be flashed. College kids going to a lake house: hot chicks in bikinis and TITS are sure to be flashed. College kids swimming in the lake with girls in bikinis: TITS are sure to be flashed.

What actually came to pass? I was thoroughly disappointed because the closest we got to TITS being flashed were a little side boob and tits covered in bikini tops.

What's my philosophy? You can make a shitty movie a 1/2 to 1 star better if you show some gratuitous hot chick tits and ass. Therefore this movie completely failed all the way around.

This movie had a couple of recognizable actors, the male and femal leads, but I don't exactly recall what movies they played in. I'd have to IMDB them. I just do remember them in another movie or two. The acting and graphics were horrible. Again, not the CGI you'd expect from a 2011 movie. The sharks were way to intelligent for being just sharks that were released into a salt water lake without being some sort of laboratory experiment or such. There was this one part where the shark was following a guy on a waverunner that was hawling some serious ass. And I know they say sharks can swim fast but this guy was hauling and the shark was swimming with big side-to-side motions instead of more linear direction. All of a sudden the shark jumps out of the water in front of the guy, still hauling ass, and latches on him from head to about waist and goes back into the water with his catch. So, first of all the shark just ate a rider that was on the back of the waverunner, then it was smart enough to time it's jump perfectly to nail the driver without hitting anything else and the shark is big enough to deep throat the victim from his head to the waist. That's just total bullshit even for a movie.

I could go on but I digress.

Final verdict: Even if I had 3D glasses all I would have felt was the shitty movie splattering on my face. I've surely seen worse but this movie was a waste of time, money and film.

Dirty Deeds (2005). I went into this movie thinking it was along the lines of "Not Another Teen Movie"—I guess because they both have Lacey Chabert in them—or "The Rules of Attraction." I guess you could say it sort of follows along those cheesy-type teen high school movies.

It also has Milo Ventriloquist...it's funny how I can't spell his last name but I can spell "ventriloquist," huh? Anyway, this guy has always reminded me of a teenage/very young adult Sylvester Stallone. I guess they sort of had the same facial stroke or something. I don't know. Milo just reminds me a lot of Sylvester.

Back to the movie: I think this could have been a much better movie with some better writing...and maybe better acting. It wasn't horrible. It just didn't continuously grab my attention and make me WANT to continue to watch it. But I did anyway because I hate to not complete viewing the movie usually not matter how bad it is. It's very rare for me to quit watching one but it has happened. Anyway, it had some occasional funny parts along with some lulls. Just nothing overwhelmingly funny and interesting. I guess it could be more likened to the movie The Hollywood Knights but not as good even though it is a more recently made movie.

Final verdict: If you find yourself very, very bored or at someone's house who is already watching it, you might sit and watch it for a spell. Hopefully, it will be during the "good" parts of the movie. Otherwise, watch and episode of The Wiggles and you'll get a bit more entertainment value.

The Clinic (2010). This movie sort of intrigued me from the picture and movie description. Plus I was looking for some good/decent horror/suspense movie. This wasn't it. It also had Andy Whitfield in it and I wanted to see how he acted in something besides Spartacus.

It had some suspense but it wasn't really horror in my definition of the word. I'm thinking scary horror like zombies, Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, etc. This was not quite there.

The concept of the film was interesting. It just wasn't executed very well. The movie dealt with pregnant women who were near term, were abducted , the babies were birthed via c-section, and then the ladies were left in tubs of ice to "heal" until they regained consciousness. I have experience with a woman after c-section and these women would not be able to do what they did immediately after "surgery." Yes, yes, I know it's a movie but some things should be kept "real" or as near to it as possible. These women were using their stomach muscles to sit up, roll over, sprint, jump...sounds like dog tricks, huh?

Basically, the women were removed of their offspring to see which of them would survive the attempts of the others and their own to find their child. They basically had to cut open the c-sections to find little colored tags that would match the tag of their baby because none of them have seen their baby and that's the only way to tell which one is theirs. There is some more plot info that I won't spoil because I know you're going to run out and rent it now.

Again, it's a novel concept. It just wasn't done well. It did show some nice boobies of the "main" female character which would add half a star to my rating.

Final verdict: You can pass. I wasn't impressed with this movie at all. It was pretty predictable up until the end when you find out why these women were kidnapped and their babies taken. I didn't expect that plot line but it isn't worth watching the entire movie.

Night Junkies (2007). This was another one of those I came across in my search for an enjoyable horror movie. It too was not it! In fact, I would pick watching The Clinic again versus watching this one the first time.

The acting was horrendous and no amount of tits and ass could have saved it. I don't know what the recent "trend" is for movies to be shot in a "Blair-Witch-home-video-camcorder" style but I don't think these people understand that this doesn't make the movie. This may make the movie seem a little more interesting if the movie is good and interesting itself. Otherwise, it just makes a shitty movie even more shitty and the grainy video becomes very distracting and irritating.

Final verdict: You would be wasting your time if you stopped to read the synopsis of this movie in Netflix or anywhere for that matter. I think the makers tried to ride on the whole Twilight vampire thing and they failed miserably!

More and more I'm beginning to wonder why Netflix is all the hype when they have a catalog of some of the worst movies ever made. I'm sure the ratio of bad to "good" movies on Netflix is like 2000 to 1. Good thing it's costing me under $10 because I would not continue with this mediocre catalog. That being said, they have had some recent additions that are good movies, in my opinion. However, I've already seen them via my Blockbuster Total Access Plan. Anyway...