Monday, December 29, 2014

Pluckers - 3rd visit

Went to Pluckers this afternoon for lunch with my kids. We decided to try the all-you-can-eat option which is only available on Mondays and after looking at the website is only every other Monday. Anyway, I decided the all-eat may end up being a better deal. I may have mentioned the "buffet" in my previous post but now the price of 20 wings is like $19.99 and the "buffet" is $18.00 for a many as you can eat which could be ten wings or fifty wings.

After receiving our food and me diving right in (I was starving as I anticipated eating here all morning), I kept a count of all the wings I put away. Turns out that the starting tray for the buffet starts with twenty wings. I ate all twenty and the waitress asked if I wanted her to start on my second flavor tray of wings. I told her that I was going to wait a little bit — I was going to quit like the wimp I was because I figured that I already got my monies worth.

About ten minutes passed and my kids were dying out on their own progress. They had such high hopes at doing some serious damage. However, they didn't do too badly and ended up with putting away like ten wings.

The waitress came by again and asked if I was ready but I said that's I'd probably just pick off their plates instead of wasting the wings. The waitress said that she could get my kids some to-go boxes for their leftover wings. I was like, "WTF!?" If I would've known that I could take them home (which is perfectly logical versing wasting ANY of the wings), I would have put in my second tray order of wings! So my kids got their leftover wings to-go but maybe this bit of knowledge will come in handy if I decide to try the all-you-can-eat wings again. This may be a while since after eating so many wings that even just the thought of a wing made all of our stomachs curdle.

Funny thing is that I just reread my previous Pluckers post and I mentioned something about our odd waiter we had at the time. This guy was still there, still weird and still somewhat clueless. Our table was close to the front near the hostess table so I heard him ask the hostess, "How long has table [so and so] been there because they really need to go?"

Oh and also, the wait was about fifteen minutes. We went around 2 p.m. on a Monday before New Year's Eve/Day and it was busier than I expected and thought it would be.

Just in case you needed all this information.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Digg's Taco Shop's hamburguesa

I had a craving for the hamburger from Digg's Taco Shop. Yes, a hamburger at a taco place. Don't laugh. It's actually pretty tasty. This is at least the fourth or fifth time I've had one. I've probably been accompanied by the same female coworker for three out of five of those burgers. She's got an addiction as she's probably had 8-10 burgers from Digg's over as many trips.

I was pretty hungry and didn't want to still feel so after eating just one burger so I bought two. The one below is the lucky winner to be eaten tonight! I refrigerated the other one because even though I was indeed still hungry, I didn't want to feel bloated by starting the second one and end up eating it all...because that's what I would have done — eaten it all!

In case you're interested, here is an article/review from the Dallas Observer's restaurant blog (while it lasts).

Digg's has actually increased the price of the burger by $1 since my coworker and I first had one about 6-8 months ago. At $5.95, it was a pretty good deal. At $6.95, it's still a good deal if you just get the burger but once you add a drink and maybe a side, you could probably get something bigger (and maybe better) somewhere else.


Friday, December 12, 2014

McDonald's loitering

Stopped by the McDonald's at 5220 N MacArthur, Irving, TX this evening around 8 p.m. There were three female and one male worker. Service was VERY slow. Waited at counter to order for 5-7 mins after the previous customer ordered. Finally took my order and I realized they got it wrong when they called me to say my order was ready — she didn't confirm it (well I didn't either) immediately after taking my order. I ordered a 10 pc McNugget meal with a Diet Coke, a Quarter Pounder (sandwich only), and an iced coffee. The order I picked up was a 10 pc McNugget meal and a Quarter Pounder meal. I don't know if the cost was more or less than it should've been but I wasn't that hungry and was going to share the fries with my child. We basically wasted an order of medium fries.

Some quick thoughts: I feel the value of the quarter pounder meal is not worth it. The hamburger patties were the smallest and thinnest I've had/seen. It's like the disclaimer of "pre-cooked weight" is used to cover the fact that the burger isn't EVEN CLOSE to being a 1/4 lb. I truly believe the slices of cheese could have been as thick as the patties and weighed nearly the same. I probably won't be going back to McDonald's for anything but maybe a $1 menu item or a coffee (the coffee is very good by the way).

The worst and funniest part of our visit was the sign that was just above my head where we sat but also posted throughout the dining area. I don't understand why they'd post such a sign in a restaurant, a fast food restaurant at that, where there is no need for table turnover since there is no waitstaff looking for tip wages.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Tennis media shows Federer favoritism, duh!

This showed up on my Facebook page today.


Don't get me wrong. I like Federer. I'm sure almost all who like tennis probably like Roger Federer or his playing skills anyway. He may not be their favorite player but it is hard to deny the accomplishments he's achieved as a professional singles tennis player.

That being said, this news report "leads" off with a bad statement.

When I hear it said that someone led a team to victory, it makes me think of that person as winning, playing awesomely and was just damn near infallible to the point that there was no way they or their team could lose.

However, this was not the case with Federer's "leading." He lost the first Davis Cup singles match for this final in straight sets to Gael Monfils. This would not be leading the victorious charge in my book. Stan Wawrinka on the other hand won his first singles match and was pretty impressive as a team with Federer in the doubles against Gasquet/Benneteau.

So maybe I'm splitting hairs here but I would say that Federer started out the day well by winning the first reverse singles match which just happened to secure the overall win and title for the Swiss Davis Cup team. Again I would not say that Roger lead the Swiss to a Davis Cup title rather that with Roger's win the title was secured and Stan did not have to play to break the tie.

I just get irritated with commentators or reporters overly supporting one player versus another just because one has fourteen grand slam titles while the other merely has one.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lunch at Banh Shop

Had lunch at Banh Shop today with a close friend. It recently opened and he texted me last week to see if I wanted to try it out. After I got home from work that day, I received the restaurant flyer in the mail which made me think that was why he suggested it. The flyer contained a coupon for a free side or dessert with my sandwich or wok'd bowl purchase.

So, today was our lunch date. I mentioned the flyer and coupon to him and he said that he doesn't remember seeing a flyer but probably got it. He mentioned eating at this place because he had driven by it once or twice and realized it was new and wanted to try it out.

That's what we did. I was looking at the menu inside the restaurant and was thinking about getting a wok'd bowl. He was sure he was getting a banh mi and decided on the grilled steak. I figured I'd try the sandwich too to compare it to Rollngo since I've had three different sandwiches there.


What you see above is menu item #1 Grilled Steak Banh Mi and a side of summer rolls which were free with a coupon.

I believe I've said this before but I'm not a food tasting expert. I like what I like and that's all that I know. That being said...

The grilled steak banh mi was good. Was it better than Rollngo? I can't really say yay or nay since it's been sometime between the sandwiches I had at Rollngo and this one. What I do recall is that the bread on the Rollngo sandwiches was harder than this one from Banh Shop. Does that make one sandwich taste better than the other? I don't think so. Again, the Banh Shop sandwich was good. Was it goo enough to make me want to come back and try it again or another one? Probably not.

The summer rolls were good. I haven't had any summer rolls from Rollngo and I don't even know if they make/sell them. So, I compare them to the summer rolls at Pho Is For Lovers. I feel like the Pho summer rolls were better and the family really likes the pho at Pho so we may not ever need to go to Banh Shop as a family.

So do I recommend this place? Sure...to try especially with the free side or dessert coupon. I more than likely will visit Banh Shop again just to try one of their wok'd bowls as they looked/sounded good.

Monday, November 10, 2014

McDonald's McRibs

As you can see, the McRib is back at McDonald's. I'm not a McRib fanatic but I have always had at least one when they come back each year to the Mickey D's menu. I had a couple McD's gift cards with money on them still so I decided to have something from McDonald's for lunch today.

The shift manager took my order and was promoting the McRib value meal to me. He then said, "Do you want the extra McRib sandwich for just $1 more?" I joked, "So, are you asking me to add another 500 calories to the 1,000 the value meal already provides me?" He said, "Yep!" So I ordered the second sandwich for the $1 extra. However, after taking the photo, I repackaged the second sandwich to save for later.


Monday, November 03, 2014

The Works at Jake's Hamburger

A coworker and I went to eat at Jake's Hamburgers. It's not the first time we've been but it was the first time for me to order #14 The Works — described by their menu like this:
"warning" this is not a diet aid! everything in the kitchen. double meat, double cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, mayo, mustard, and ketchup.
Funny thing is when I ordered The Works, the cashier asked me if I wanted any fries or onion rings. I laughed and said that I think the burger may be more than enough to fill my belly.

The photo doesn't properly show the size of this burger but it was fairly stacked! I have had a couple of different burger styles from Jake's and they all pretty much are the same taste but with some slight variation in sauces or condiments that tweaks the flavor. The Works is basically the same as the others I've had taste-wise but for the price and the size, it was worth the try.

It may just be me but I still don't like those places that don't have a really good combo price for a burger, fries and drink. Unfortunately, I think that's the new way of doing things. My first experience with this type of a-la-carte pricing was when they opened a Twisted Root near my work. The price of the burger looks good but then you add a side of fries and a drink, then the costs becomes like $15 for ONE person to eat. That's too much damn money in my opinion especially when the burger was like $6.95.

Sorry for the tangent, back to The Works...

As mentioned, I didn't order any sides. However, my coworker had ordered some onion rings which I was allowed to partake in eating. I didn't eat many onion rings as for the first time after eating my burger, I felt very comfortably satiated and didn't want to overdo it.

So if you have the opportunity, try The Works from Jake's Hamburgers. Again, their burgers don't vary too much from one to the other: It's typically meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, mustard, ketchup. They change it up by adding Thousand Island Sauce, hickory sauce, or the like. This is just a pretty good-sized burger, tasty and priced well.


Sunday, November 02, 2014

Kicker HP402B CUSH Full-Size Headphones, Black

I got an email deal alert from Rakuten.com. It had the Kicker HP402B CUSH full-size headphones (black or white, I purchased black) on sale for $29.99 with free shipping. I don't need another damn pair of headphones but I just couldn't resist. I did some Googling and a lot of the reviews were positive. They all essentially said that they are pretty damn good for the price. The prices I've seen them for and others have quoted in their reviews are around $80-$100. Amazon had them for $79.95 at the time I purchased. In the Rakuten deal, they had them for $30 off with the free shipping making them $29.99. I figured it was a good deal to try them out like the many others I've done for a lot less (see here, here and here).

The free shipping made delivery on these about a week——I ordered in the late evening on a Wednesday and got them at my door via USPS a week later on Thursday. I think that's pretty good for free, standard shipping. Plus, I wasn't in any hurry to receive them so I didn't need to pay for any faster shipping.

I didn't know what to expect. I know of the Kicker brand for like boom boxes and shit like that for car audio but didn't know if it was the same brand. After receiving the headphones, it looks like the Kicker logo on them is the same that I've seen on the car audio products. Here nor there, I really didn't care what brand they are just as long as they performed well.

So, first some photos:







So far I've listened to music and watched movies on my iPad as well as watched movies on my desktop PC. I've found the sound to be pretty darn good! The bass is pretty good and sounds fairly deep. The treble isn't bad either and it doesn't effect my ears like some ear buds do — sometimes I get a static, scratchy sound in my inner ear which I think comes from too much treble.

The ear muffs are pretty comfy. They're soft and create a good seal. I tested the sound leakage with my youngest. I was listening to music fairly loud on my iPad and my youngest was up on the stairs about twenty feet away and six feet up. My youngest said the music could not be heard but coming down the stairs and closer to me, the music could start to barely be heard. When my youngest was right upon me, the music was a little louder but still pretty muffled. When I took the muffs off my head, the music could be heard pretty loud and clear. That was pretty cool.

I listened for a few hours before my ears started to get a little hot and irritated. I think that's probably because a few times I laid on my side to listen and one ear muff could push up from the pillow to be tighter on my ear. I think if I was just wearing them while walking around or something that the comfort would be much longer.

Overall, I really like these Kicker CUSH headphones so far. They sound good. They feel good. And I got them for a heck of a deal. I think they have some newer versions but you really can't go wrong with this model.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sea Aggie Preview at Texas A&M Galveston

I'm going to have me a high school graduate soon so I've (we've) been getting emails from various colleges. Some we've expected. Others I've never even heard of. Below is from an email that was sent to me from Texas A&M Galveston. What I found interesting is that for a prospective student to come see the Sea Aggie Preview, they have to pay their own way. Or I guess to be more exact, pay for lunch and a t-shirt. Either way, I don't think that this is a proper way to recruit a new student population.

Bad form Texas A&M Galveston, bad form!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Chikfila off US 75 near Southwestern Blvd, Dallas

Went to get lunch for me and the wife. This was the drive thru at Chikfila around 11:45 a.m. on a Monday. I can't believe people wait this long for food and especially this many people still think Chikfila is "healthy." Yes, it's good-tasting food but people think it's also healthy because it's chicken. Everything is healthy in moderation. But I digress.

This is just a glimpse of the line that I caught. They have two drive thru lanes. The right one is all the way to the 75 service road and down it north to the Southwestern Blvd intersection. Which always causes traffic backups around lunch time at this location. It's ridiculous. Does it mean that Chikfila is that worth it or that people are just foolish?

Oh well, either way, I would never wait more than 5-10 minutes between getting in line, ordering and getting my order from a "fast food" restaurant. I've got better things to do or better places to eat that require me to wait.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Going Deep with David Rees

I was channel surfing a week or so ago and came across this show: Going Deep with David Rees. I didn't know the name of the show at the time. What caught my attention was that this guy is supposed to show people things a "new light." However, what he showed me is that he's kind of an idiot. The stupidity is said at around 6 seconds on the video. Let's see if others realize his mistake!

 

That's all I got to say about that!
 

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Toshiba external hard drive

I have a Toshiba 2TB 3.0 external hard drive. It "crashed" on me. I quote crashed because it technically still worked as far as power and connecting but it wouldn't show/work correctly in My Computer. I also couldn't do anything with it under Computer Management—>Disk Management. The cursor would just turn into the spinning vortex of annoyance.

I didn't think the hard drive was bad because many times in the past I've taken the drives out of their housing and they end up working just fine for at least another 6mos to a year to still going. So, I tried the same thing with this one.

The funny thing about it, which is my reason for the post, is that the Toshiba case contained a Seagate Barracuda hard drive.

Now I don't know if Seagate and Toshiba are owned by the same entity like WD and HGST. If they are, then the post is all for not. Otherwise, we'll go back to it being funny.

By the way, the hard drive works just fine as an internal. Initially, it didn't want to work but after formatting it seems to be functional for the time being. Luckily, it's used for a back up of a back up so not too worried about it failing...if it does. I'm just trying to get more life out of it if I can.

Enemy (2013), Hours (2013)

Enemy (2013). This movie was kind of weird and kind of slow. It gave me this eerie Donnie Darko vibe in the sense like it was a meaningless, pointless movie that just dragged on but the viewer hoped there would be a time when the light bulb went off and they'd be like, "AHA! That's what it's about!" That shit never happened with this movie either.

I don't know why Jake Gyllenhall picks to do movies like this. Does he think they're artsy or something? Who knows. I can only think that other watchers, viewers and fans of Jake were constantly saying, "WTF! This movie is confusing the shit out of me!"

Really the movie made me feel like I was sick. You know like that feeling that you want to get up and do something but the flu, fever or whatever has you so jacked up that you just want to sit because you get dizzy and decide to just vegetate? I don't know I just can't explain it well enough.

Melanie Laurent plays Gyllenhall's character's girlfriend. They have some kind of weird relationship like she wants more but he doesn't or he wants more but she doesn't. They screw and she doesn't like to stay over. I don't know the premise or reasoning behind any of it and I don't think it's explained. She's kind of hot but their sex is boring...maybe that's where the story lies. I very well could have just not paid close enough attention. Again, who knows.

Sarah Gadon plays the other Gyllenhall's wife. She's kind of hot too. She's pregnant. They show her naked. I don't think their relationship is good.

I think the movie may be about having a doppelganger and thinking that their life is better than yours for everyone involved. The men switch lives and the women both know or eventually find out that their man is not their man but he looks like their man but he treats her different and that's the telling factor.

Anyway, I guess I could re-watch it pay closer attention but it just wasn't that intriguing to begin with so it may never happen.

Overall verdict: I would say rent something else. I just wasn't feeling this movie but again, I watch movies somewhat distracted because I'm doing usually doing something else while watching.



Hours (2013). This movie was somewhat intense. It's pretty much a one-character movie—Paul Walker's. There are some filler characters to help maintain interest or to help build the story but if the movie was 100 minutes long, I'd say that 90 minutes was just Paul Walker's character and his newborn daughter.

My first thought was that there was no way that the hospital's policy would be to basically say, "Oh well, sorry your baby's in an incubator and it's an archaic one at that but your newborn's probably going to die." Isn't that anti-Hippocratic oath? Also, surely there would have been some nurse or doctor who had the huevos to stay and make sure the newborn baby had every chance it could to live.

Anyway, it wasn't a bad movie. It had a lot of 'oh shit' moments where one thing gets 'fixed' and another thing goes wrong. This added to the intenseness and sort of teetered the line between 'that could happen' and 'that's bullshit'.

Overall verdict: I would say rent it from Redbox for $1.50 or stream for free. It has some good parts.

Friday, October 03, 2014

State Fair of Texas 2014

A friend and coworker of mine asked me to go to the State Fair of Texas on this wonderfully cool day. It was the perfect weather and day to go. She had free tickets and she was paying for everything, how could I say, "No?" So not to go into too much detail, I figured I'd just post a few pictures from the day that I took with my cellphone.

I did not photograph it but I would say that the Chicken Fried Loaded Baked Potato was pretty good. Visually, it wasn't at all what I was expecting — an actual loaded baked potato that ha been deep fried — but it did at least taste like it should. I think it was around 14 tickets, which is WAY overpriced, but I made a decision to try at least a few of the fried finalists...and well, my friend was paying. Anyway...on to the photos.


Big Tex!


The Cotton Bowl


The Texas Star


Stockyard building replica


Alamo replica


Fried Sweet Texas

Fried Sweet Texas is one of the Big Tex Choice Awards 2014 Finalist (as reported by D Magazine's Sidedish. It's best described on the StateFairBlog:
“Traveling across Texas to try the best and most popular desserts gave inspiration for this fried treat. Fried Sweet Texas starts with fresh pie dough filled with crunchy pecan pie, juicy peach cobbler and creamy buttermilk pie. It is then deep fried until the crust is golden brown and flaky, and then served up with a side of Texas’ own Blue Bell Vanilla Ice Cream. A real tribute to Texans and their amazing sweet treats!"
In all fairness, the dessert is good. Is it better than Molten Chocolate Cake at Chili's (I think) or even better than the cinnamon rolls at Cici's? In my opinion, no. In fact, I think I used 14 tickets which amounts to $7.00 for the Fried Sweet Texas dessert and I wasn't satiated or my taste buds fulfilled. I can eat all I want of the cinnamon rolls with the Cici's buffet OR Death by Chocolate is like $5.00. Both you get more for your money and thinking about them right now, makes my mouth water. I don't have that reaction with the Fried Sweet Texas. The only thing I can say about that dessert is I tried it. However, I cannot recommend it!
 

Cobra Mustang golf cart


2014 Cobra Mustang Convertible


Big Tex Game Card

As labeled, the above image is a Big Tex Game Card. You MUST purchase one of these to be able to play ANY of the games along the Midway. It's ridiculous! My friend purchased two forty credit game cards for $20 each. That means we paid $40 for 80 credits. With me? Most games on the Midway charge 5 credits or more. My friend liked the water gun games...you know the ones where you shoot water into the mouth of something and it either moves stuff in a race of some kind or blows up a balloon until it pops. In my mind, these are tailored to children. As that, the games should be priced as so. However, the two that we played were 10 credits per player and some had a minimum of 2 or 4 players to play. So they get more money and only one winner. Anyway, we looked specifically for those water gun games that would allow a minimum of 2 players. Anyway, we had to play twice to win a prize. I let my friend win both times to get a 12-15" tall Gizmo. Yep! That's Gizmo from Gremlins. I told my friend that she paid $40 for that stuffed Gizmo which she probably could have paid much less for at somewhere like Amazon.com, Walmart or Target and she paid that much for a movie item from like twenty years ago! Anyway, I then won her a football in a football throw contest. That cost her $20 since I missed the first two times.

So, the main point of my mentioning the game card is that the State Fair has finally found a way to gouge even more money from Fair attendees. Coupons are used for food and rides only. Game cards are used only for Midway games. So, if you have any amount left over of cards or coupons, it makes it more difficult to use them all before you leave as they cannot be cross used.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Halloween costume advert...no, this is NOT spam

I have purchased one or two things from this company before: Gadgets and Gear. I originally thought this was spam with the subject line reading: "Be a Giant Penis This Halloween!" But it was not. It is funny though.

 

That's all I got to say about that!
 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Mashed potatoes in a bucket

Went to my neighborhood Tom Thumb to get some groceries and dinner. My youngest went with me. We were pretty hungry and grocery shopping while being as hungry as we were probably isn't the best idea.

We didn't do too bad. We had to get some treats for a party my youngest was attending. We purchased Safeway branded chocolate-covered donut holes — 50 for $5. Yum! In fact, I purchased two tubs so I could have my fat-building dessert at home all day!

For dinner, we decided to get an over-roasted chicken. You know the kind they have these days at any big-name grocery in the middle of some aisle near the deli that was actually baked/cooked by the deli. They are usually like $4.99-$5.99 depending on if you have their rewards card.

Anyway, my youngest said we needed a side item to go with it. Which normally we don't but today we needed one. My youngest picked this bucket of mashed potatoes for like $3.00. I guess we could test it for such a low price. Besides, unless it's just completely horrible and disgusting, I'll eat it because I was born, bred and raised to NOT waste food!

So, long story short, these are pretty darn good! I was a little iffy when buying and initially warming them up (they're in a microwavable container) but the oldest, youngest and I liked them. I don't think the wife had any but I'm sure she would have liked them as well.

Sometimes you gotta live on the edge, especially with food. If it works out, cool. If not...try again.



Friday, September 26, 2014

The Amazing Spiderman 2, Transcendence, Rage, Noah, Bad Words, Sabotage, Divergent, Bad Johnson

The Amazing Spiderman 2 (2014). I saw this back in May at the Galaxy Drive-in. I didn't write anything back then because the post was about the drive-in. So, the movie finally came out on DVD and I rented it from Redbox.

So, the movie is pretty good. It's full of action, excitement, laughs, cries (crying) and quite a few how-the-hell-does-that-happen/work moments. Let's start off with the crying. Spiderman cries more than ANYONE else in the movie. If we break the movie into eight equal parts of say fifteen minutes each, you can say that Spiderman cries at least two to three minutes in each of those parts. Andrew Garfield should win (if he didn't already) best on-screen male crier.

I remember them making a big deal about how many villians would be in the movie. What they didn't explain is that just because they have three minutes of screen time doesn't mean they are actually "in the movie." For instance, Rhino isn't actually Rhino or in Rhino uniform until the last few minutes of the movie. Green Goblin is in the movie for about two to three times the length of Rhino.

I also have the usual gripes like: How did Harry learn to use the Goblin's sled/glider with such expertise without "training?" How did Harry know the Goblin suit would keep him from dying and how the heck DID it keep him from dying? How did Harry's family disease attack him so quickly at a young age but his father was old and wrinkly before it happened? Why can't Gwen stay out of the way like Peter told her to...I mean he's getting his ass kicked so what the hell does she really think she can do besides die? Why doesn't Peter Parker know about electric current or almost everything scientific since he's supposed to be a nerdy guy anyway...like why did he have to look up YouTube videos on electricity? Where's Spidey's spider sense? I could go on and on but I won't.

It's a good movie to watch if for just the pure entertainment value.


Transcendence (2014). This movie had an interesting concept but with poor execution. The interpretation or OVER-interpretation led it astray. Johnny Depp's character is dying. His mind is miraculously digitized to where he's basically the same person but he's inside a computer. He's able repair people's organs dying from cancer or whatever. He's also able to 'grow' appendages that people have lost. He does this by "infecting" them which allows him to also control them if need be...which he does. I guess there are all these nanobots/bytes/things which he can control. I guess wirelessly since they aren't connected to him directly.

Where it gets really dicey and dumb is when he's able to destroy matter such as land and people. It doesn't matter how much control he has of the digital world. Sand, dirt, brick, and whatever else is not digital so it cannot be destroyed.

Anyway, I watched the movie some time ago and I don't recall all the specifics. I would not recommend this movie as you could probably just watch Tron or Virtuosity to get the same gist of this move.


Rage (2014). Reading the synopsis of this movie made me think this could be a story about the way I feel sometimes: to be a part of the world, I have to keep my rage in check.

It wasn't one of Cage's best movies but I didn't think it was one of his worst. It's kind of low key. He's still kind of the hidden bad ass and still has that funky hairdo (but what else can he do with a receding hairline and thinning hair?).

It didn't end like I thought it would because most of these types of story lines don't end the way this one did. Hopefully that makes sense.

If someone you know already has the movie rented/bought, it would be okay to watch it. It may even be worth a $1-something from Redbox.


Noah (2014). So, if you think about this movie being about the biblical story of Noah, then you'd be wrong but also partly right. There is a character named Noah and he builds an ark. Animals board. A flood comes. The waters recede and land is found. The End. There is some other extraneous bullshit that happens in between and during those scenes but they're pretty much needless. Probably to make the movie more interesting but it didn't do it for me. It just pissed me off.

One reason for my pissedness: Noah and his family are supposed to be pretty God-fearing. His youngest son is a disobedient little horny fucker and should have been left to be washed away in the flood. All he's thinking about is how he needs a woman/mate—I mean what man wouldn't need a vagina of his own if stuck on a boat for 40 days and 40 nights?! Noah goes to look for one for his son but they are all already whores or damaged goods because of their stupid family. Son ventures out on his own when he's told not to. Son causes all kinds of trouble before the death flood comes.

Another reason is the "king" of the scabby people is able to hang on to the outside of the ark when the huge ass waves of flash flooding came. I mean these waves tore down deep-rooted trees with ease but this wounded old man was able to hang on to the ark with no problem. In fact, he was able to chop through the side of the ark in record time to create a hole big enough for him to fit through and enter the ark unbeknownst to Noah and his family. Also, this hole was big enough to fit this guy through but not a bit of water got into the ark during the flood or while the ark floated adrift. This hole was not a the top of the ark either. It had to have been at least halfway or lower.

Once again, we return to the unruly son. He finds the king of the scabbies and does not report his findings to Noah. In fact, he feeds and nourishes this man. The man also kills some of the animals to nourish himself...which If I'm not mistaken, messes up the whole two of every animal story. If he ate at least one, then there is no longer an even number of two!

Anyway, the movie really has no sustenance. It has nothing to capture the viewers attention other than maybe wanting to see that little fucking son of Noah's get shit on by every freaking animal on the ark! I only watched the movie to say that I completed it, which I've done with many movies before this one. A friend of mine tried to watch this movie 4-5 different times and never could finish it.

So to summarize, pass on this movie. It's slow, boring, meaningless, unbelievable and...and...just any other negative word you want to use. Save your time and money and watch something else.

But positives of the movie, Jennifer Connelly still looked hot no matter what drab clothing she's wearing. Oh yeah, and Emma Watson didn't look too shabby either.


Bad Words (2013). This movie was pretty hilarious in a very simplistic way. The plot twist was actually pretty good too. You think it's about one thing and then you realize that it's about another. The interactions between Jason Bateman's character and Rohan Chand's (the India boy) are pretty funny. I laughed a lot. The dialogue was also funny between Bateman and Kathryn Hahn's character.

I went in to this movie thinking it might suck. For me, it turned out to be worth my $1+ at Redbox.


Sabotage (2014). I know. I know. I was thinking the same thing, "Another Schwarzenegger is a bad ass movie?" But you know, it really wasn't that terrible.

The plot was very similar to many of his (or other's movies). Bad ass military unit does things that others can't or won't and Arnold is the leader. They do a job. Something goes wrong. The close-knit group has doubts about each other and each member points the finger at who may be to blame. Near the end you could sort of figure out the plot/ending.

It has the same problems as other shooting movies like unlimited ammo or near-perfect marksman all of sudden become shitty shooters but it was still a decent action-thriller.

The movie had some fairly known actors like Sam Worthington, Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway, Terrence Howard, Max Martini, and Mireille Enos but their acting occasionally seemed amateurish.

Overall, for a buck and change, it's tolerable enough to watch.


Divergent (2014). I knew nothing about this movie other than what I briefly read when I Google it some months ago. I thought about getting the books on my Kindle but knew I'd probably never get around to reading one much less all of them. Maybe someday. Okay, probably not.

Anyway, this movie seems very Hunger Games mixed with Harry Potter. There are different factions and a test decides which "house" each kid/teenager can join. Each house/faction has a specific role and kids are trained in those roles. If they suck at it, they can't go back home...they can't go to another faction...so they are pretty much dirt fodder and must fend for themselves basically in exile.

Occasionally there are those people who are different and they're called Divergent...and that's Shailene Woodley which I recall seeing her in The Spectacular Now. Anyway, Shailene's character is this movie's Harry or Katniss.

I guess the movie was interesting enough. I guess it has a pretty good following since there seems to be a second book/movie and then a part 1 & 2 of a third book? Seems just like Hunger Games and Twilight, huh?

I wasn't disappointed in watching this movie but I also wasn't wowed by it. Maybe the books are better and so you can pass on the movie. Let me know as I'll probably just watch the movies.


Bad Johnson (2014). Can a movie find success or even just survive on a pretty face and good physique? This is a good example of "hell to the no!" This movie 'stars' Cam Gigandet who I remember from playing James in Twilight and just barely remember he was in Burlesque. Which again shows you that this movie really didn't have a chance if little-known Cam was the headliner.

I never even heard of this movie and I saw it on the movie list at Redbox.com. I clicked on it to watch the trailer and it sort of captured my interest. I waited a few days as other movies seemed more interesting at the time. I got an email/text from Redbox with a free rental code. I had already seen the movies I actually wanted to see so I thought, "What the hey, I'll get Bad Johnson."

The movie started out alright enough. It had it's moments of funny to very funny but it began to taper off fairly quickly and I almost felt like I couldn't watch anymore around the midpoint. I endured and it ended just as I expected/predicted. Which isn't a huge deal with comedies but when the comedic value dwindles, it tends to be tedious and boring and I can no longer overlook the predictable.

If you want to see Cam's naked abs and occasional bare ass, you can do it cheaper and quicker by searching on the Internet. If you still want to see this movie, I'd recommend you watch the trailer, read the synopsis and you would have basically watched the movie.


Friday, September 19, 2014

I hate playing tennis...no I love it...I hate it...no...

I am playing in a tennis tournament tomorrow morning. For the past couple of years, I have been only playing doubles. I'm not at my singles weight is what I tell people but I actually just get too frustrated and pissed at myself because I don't get the chance to play enough for practice.

The weight really doesn't matter to me but that's just the 'joke' I use. I would like to lose a few twenty pounds just to be a little more light on my feet but I don't know if that will happen anytime soon.

Truth is, I suck at tennis. I've lost that competitive edge that I used to have. It sucks to be the nice guy across the net but I can't help it. I'm damaged goods.

Okay, I really don't suck. I just lack getting enough practice to be more consistent with my awesome shots! Once a week on a Saturday morning is not going to help me hone my shots. Of course, some of the guys I play with play 2-3 times a week and they really aren't any better when I come back after a couple of weeks or more between playing. It's sad for them (in my eyes) but also anger for me because I know I have the potential to be better than I am...if only I had more time to practice and/or persons to practice with.

I used to play singles at least 1-2 times a week with a neighbor friend. It was good practice just to get out and hit the ball. I am always better than him because most of the time when he would win a point, game, set or match, it was because I lost it from stupid shots and errors rather than him kicking my ass.

I lack consistent focus. Winning just stopped becoming the highest priority when I played. I was just glad to get out and hit. To have fun and enjoy the interactions with friends.

But then came leagues and tournaments. It was tough to change my mental game. Many times I didn't and I'd lose. Most of the time I'd take the first set. I then would let up because in my mind I had already won. I would know I could beat the guy so I wouldn't really have to do it because it was already a given. So, I'd lose the second set and usually the third if I didn't pressure myself mentally to pay the fuck attention and win the damn match. Worst is when I'd be up something like 5-1, 5-2, 5-3. I'd have one more game to win and I knew it could be done but I'd become unfocused and then I'd be at 5-5, 6-5 or even worse lose the set 7-5. I'd be mildly upset but, again, I'd be happy to have been able to play and have a fairly decent match even with the brain farts!

I only bring all this up because in my tournament tomorrow I am playing singles. I didn't tell my doubles partner that I also registered for singles. I didn't want him to get stressed out about my possible fatigue from playing possibly two matches before our first doubles match. I play at 8 a.m. and win or lose I play again at 10 or 11 a.m. At 1 p.m. will be our first doubles match.

I'm a little nervous...okay, a lot. I haven't played singles competitively in a long time. I mean there was the times with my neighbor friend but that really wasn't for any prize...just kind of bragging rights until next time. To top things off, I'm going to play this very consistent Asian guy that I've hit with on other days and even played a few doubles matches against with my doubles partner. I saw Asian guy a week or two ago and asked if he was going to play singles in this tournament. He said he probably was as the registration deadline was that Sunday by midnight. I joked with him and said I might play just to see him in the finals. Well, karma really likes to fuck with me so I'll be seeing him in the first match.

Again, he's not technically better than I am. He's just more consistent and he just happened to win this tournament, as well as a few others, in the men's 4.0 singles.

I am trying to prepare mentally now and hopefully that will automatically or at least help translate to me physically tomorrow morning. Our match is at 8 a.m. which means I have to get up at 6:30 a.m. to get ready, maybe get a light breakfast and leave to get to the city it's being hosted in about 25 miles away.

All good times ahead. If I lose, I can chalk it up to experience, I guess. I don't like to waste $25 but I guess it'll help me know where I stand. I'll be happy to be a 6-4, 6-4 loss but would be even happier if I pull off the reverse for the win.

We'll see. At least I know that I get to play in a consolation bracket if I lose and still have my doubles match to play.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Choices...choices

This is from a recent Fry's Electronics sales ad. What's more important, necessary or are both frivolous?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Is this the perfect shirt or what?

Saw this at Walmart or was it Target? I don't remember.




Sent by Absent-Minded Jay via his Samsung S3

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

High school band trip to Honolulu, Hawaii

** This is WAY past overdue from when I started but I have many thoughts and distractions on top of being a busy man. Just enjoy the post...or not.

So, my kids are privileged. Okay, not really. But they do go to a public high school that is 97.5% full of the privileged. We are able to benefit from this because we rent in the area versus buying. We are in what the "real" residents call a "multi-family dwelling." We'd NEVER be able to buy...not necessarily because I won't ever make that much money...okay, I won't ever make that much money...but not because I can't. It's because I won't waste my life working to afford something that isn't a necessity in my life. I'd much rather make enough to live and enjoy not working all the time.

Anyway, the marching band at this high school announced during summer 2013 band camp that they were going to Hawaii for this year's band trip. More specifically they would be marching in the Honolulu St. Patrick's Day Parade in Waikiki Beach on March 17, 2014 at 12 p.m. Most all of the kids were pretty stoked. Many of the kids probably have already been to ritzy vacation areas——maybe places like Vail, Cancun, Bahamas, and any popular destinations for the rich in North America, South America, Europe, Asia...okay basically anywhere the rich take their kids.

The student price was $1,970 since they will be in a quad occupancy room. The adult price was $2,030 as they'd be in double occupancy rooms unless they decided to be in quad occupancy. I prefer double as the wife and I were planning on going. She's still fighting her illness or the side effects from the illness but we were going to use this as a celebration of her making leaps and strides to betterness.

The wife didn't get as better as we had hoped so I invited my long-time friend who's basically be demoted to a well-known acquaintance to take her place. He'd have to pay of course but I had already reserved an extra space and I didn't feel like paying double or rooming with someone I really don't know. I thought about asking the one brother I still talk to but I ended up asking the lesser of two evils. I knew my friend and I would have fun. We just don't hang out as much these days as we used to and we live 15-20 minutes away from each other and also work basically across the street from one another. Anyway, so he was the lucky one to benefit from my wife still not feeling up to traveling. I could have just not gone with my kids but this is freaking Hawaii!! And, it's one thing if they were going to one of the 48 contiguous states...well, most anyway, some I'd still want to go...but this is a flight over an ocean with my two kids. I was not going to be worried about them sitting in good ol' Texas!

The band used a travel agent which was beneficial in including a few interesting excursions that I probably would not book to do myself or even as a family. Going just as a family, everything is costly so I have to pick and choose what's best, most fun and at a fairly decent price. Sometimes though, I do things that I REALLY want to do and I will pay whatever the cost is. Luckily, the total amount we paid included these extra activities so I'd be an idiot to not take advantage of them.


  WHERE WE STAYED


First of all, we stayed in the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel. Here the hotel rooms were nice enough but they weren't all that. I didn't know what to expect but it really wasn't much different inside the room than when we stayed at Aston Waikiki Circle Hotel as a family back in 2010. I don't know what the cost difference is but they obviously are owned by the same parent company. I think the Circle Hotel had a much better balcony view (beach front for us versus beach view at Beach Hotel). The Beach Hotel room was a little larger maybe a couple of feet wider and longer, had a few extra room amenities like a flat screen TV with a PS3 which one could rent movies or games for 'free' as part of the room cost. Who's going to spend their time in their room playing video games or watching TV when the entire island of Oahu and the ocean are there to play in is beyond me but to each his own. I'm sure the Circle Hotel rooms have been updated somewhat since 2010——maybe not larger but amenities-wise.

There was a weird thing with the "all-you-can-eat" breakfast. It was sold to us as an international buffet breakfast. In reality, it was the same shit you get at Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn or some other hotel that has "Inn" or "Suites" in the name. I'm not saying that it's bad. I'm just saying it's never what they promote and advertise. The main difference between the Inn/Suites' continental breakfast and AWBH is they didn't have the pastries prepackaged in cellophane. Inside each room there was what I'd call an "insulated" lunch tote. It was about 10" long by 6" wide by 6" deep. You took this down to the breakfast "buffet" by the pool between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. You waited in line because some hotel employee is checking your key card to make sure you room at the hotel and belong in the line to get their breakfast "buffet." Once past the gatekeeper, you had a line of like six tables and stations that had various items on them from individual serving boxed cereals, milk, muffins, donuts, various other pastries, Japanese-type breakfast items like cold noodles and then just-OK coffee. You could opt for hot breakfast items like eggs, bacon and/or waffles but they would bill your room for those items. You put whatever you could inside the tote to carry and eat in a poolside chair or back in your room. That's what the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel calls an international buffet breakfast. The best parts of the breakfast was the poi roll/muffin with sweet poi filling. Everything else one could get at ANY hotel/inn/suite on the mainland or anywhere else I'm sure. Although the coffee wasn't memorable and the only cup they had was like the kind you'd use to rinse your mouth out at the dentist, I had to drink it because I NEED my caffeine in the morning to make it through the day especially getting up at 6:30-7:00 a.m. The urn of Kona coffee with pouches of powdered creamer we had available when we stayed at the Aston Waikiki Circle Hotel was much better than the coffee on the buffet line. Truthfully, I wouldn't have minded just hitting the corner McDonald's and paying for some spam and eggs or a sausage, egg McMuffin. But adding additional extraneous costs to my travel when the buffet is "free" was not in my game plan.


View of Waikiki Beach from our balcony


Sunset view of Waikiki Beach from our balcony


Pool and breakfast area as seen from our balcony


  WHAT WE DID AS PART OF THE PAYMENT


Germaine's Luau — This luau was a new experience. I didn't know what to expect but if it was anything close to the luau we attended on our last visit, then it couldn't be too bad. We took a luau bus from our hotel to the location. I guess it'd be considered located on the southwest corner of the island. We had an older lady guide that was kind of annoying and funny at the same time. She was very good at sharing all her cultural knowledge of Hawaii as she's a local...born and bred. The drive to Germaine's was kind of interesting. We took a lot of highway and went through an industrial park to get to the place. I'm sure there was a time when it was mostly trees, sand and rock around the Germaine's but not so much now. Luckily for them, they are located pretty close to the beach and ocean so they are able to keep the allure of a traditional luau. The entertainment was fairly good and the food wasn't too bad. The offerings were plentiful although I would have expected a few more options. Our last visit we did the luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Overall, I believe the entertainment, atmosphere and dining was much better at the Cultural Center. I don't know the actual cost difference between the two different places but even if it's double or less, I'd go with the Cultural Center. Now don't get me wrong. Germaine's was a nice establishment with decent food and entertainment but it just doesn't compare to everything we got with a ticket to the Cultural Center luau.


Imu where the kalua pig is being cooked


Dining area and stage

Maita'i Catamaran — This isn't something that I would have planned to do myself. I'm not even sure that it's something to even consider. It was package in the deal so I wasn't going to miss it. It was a fairly enjoyable time to just be out on the water. The catamaran had a huge sail and at times we were really booking it. It was occasionally entertaining when some of the band kids got splashed and soaked from the bow dipping under the water a bit causing a big, splashing wave. We did get to see some dolphins swim along the boat. The ride started just off the beach in front of the Outrigger Waikiki went out towards the ocean then to slightly past Diamond Head and then back to the beach. It was probably an hour ride and the captain and deck hand were nice if not mostly silent. While it was somewhat nice and enjoyable, it's not something I think is really worth around $30. Can I mark it off my bucket list? Sure, if I had it on there but other than that I'd much rather spend $30 on some souvenirs I can take/send home. However, if it's something other people want to do, then you can't go wrong with the Maita'i Catamaran.


Waikiki Beach from the catamaran


Diamond Head from the catamaran

Pearl Harbor/Arizona Memorial — We did this when we vacationed as family a few years ago. It's the same except they finished the construction of part of the visiting center that was blocked off last time we were here. The new building is essentially a movie theater that shows photos and film clips to show the progression of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the aftermath and the subsequent USA's joining WWII. It's about a 20-30 minute movie and then you get to move to where the barge taxis will be boarded for the trip to The Memorial. One thing I did notice this time is that the visiting families with children did much better in controlling those children and having them respect the time and reverence of being on The Memorial. The landscape of the Harbor was much different too as there were not as many naval ships docked as our previous visit because the "naval war games" were not going on at this time.


Just inside Pearl Harbor Visiting Center


USS Missouri from inside the Memorial


American Flag thru top of USS Arizona Memorial


Name wall inside the USS Arizona Memorial

Nu'uanu Pali Lookout — This was also done on our previous trip. It seems to be a part of almost every available island tour and it was worth it just as much as before. The overlooked land was more lush than before as this visit was during Hawaii's winter time. This is still a "shouldn't miss" stop for any vacationers as it's a fairly peaceful and beautiful place to visit and it's free.


  THINGS WE DID OUTSIDE OF THE PLAN


We had a "your day" where there wasn't anything to do as part of the package. They did have "deals" that the band kids could've signed up for which included snorkeling in Hanauma Bay or hiking Diamond Head or parasailing somewhere. I told my kids that we already did the first two and we could parasail on the mainland but it was up to them. We/they decided upon my idea of renting a vehicle for the day to drive around to at least hit the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet as it's only open until 3 p.m. and Saturday, our free day, was Saturday. This was our only cheaper priced shopping option because The International Market Place was closed down for remodeling or something. It seems their link is currently down or wrong but you can view some online articles here, here and here while they last. Besides, last time we were here, the Swap Meet was $2-$5 lower than the Int'l Market probably due to convenience. Anyway, we hit the Swap Meet and I purchased more shirts this time around than last because I knew I'd wear the hell out of my shirts I bought. Besides, I decided this time around that if I bought too much that wouldn't fit in my carry-on, I was just going to check a bag or FedEx/UPS it to my home. My buddy also was prepared and had a checked bag that was 90% empty because he didn't know what he would come back with either. And it turns out that checking a bag is much cheaper than shipping it even via FedEx or UPS. Good call friend!

Blue Hawaii Helicopter tours — However, before the Swap Meet, we decided the day before to try something really different and definitely something my wife would not approve of. A helicopter tour with Blue Hawaii Helicopter tours. They do a tour of about half the island that starts at Honolulu Airport around and down to the southeast point then up north along the short to the northeast point and then back down the "middle" of the island to the airport. So we saw places like Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, Oprah's house, Bird Island (I think), Schoefield Barracks, North Shore, Dillingham Airfield where some fighter jets were taking off and landing during flight exercises, some place in the lush mountainside where they were building sets for the new Jurassic Park movie and the same trail/dirt road along which 50 First Dates was filmed, Dole Plantation and few other places along the route that escape my memory at this time. It was WAY WAY cool! I'd have to say well worth the $200 each plus my buddy purchased the video for $25 (it comes on a flash drive) which includes video of inside and outside of the helicopter as well as mic/headset audio during the ride——it was cool except for one camera that was a little foggy/blurry which as part of the service and sales you'd think they'd make sure all lenses were free and clear...all in all the video was good enough for memorabilia sake. We also used two GoPros (hand-held by me and my friend however so a little bumpy). The helicopter held the pilot and six other people. Seating is based on weight distribution so my kids got the two front seats next to the pilot, I was on the outer right, my friend next to me and then a couple celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary on the left side. Our pilot was not only the pilot but a well-informed tour guide. He was good at what he did even though he looked to be the ripe old age of 18-20 years old. He may have been a little older but certainly did not look it. As stated, it was a good time!

Keneke's — My friend and I didn't visit the original location that I did in 2010. Instead, we ran into the location listed on the website. I asked the lady inside if the other location was still open (it was really just a hole-in-the-wall place) and she said yes. However, the website only lists one location so I'm not sure about the other. I would say that I felt like the food seemed a little tastier at the 2010 location but I'm not going to complain too much because it's ALL good going down!


Keneke's Grill at Punaluu


View from the back seating area at Keneke's


Kalua Pork and Pork Adobo


Pork Adobo and Pork Guisantes (aka. Peas & Pork)

Oceanarium Restaurant in the Pacific Beach Hotel — My friend and I ate dinner at this place. I ate here with the family the last visit so I recommended to my buddy to eat here again. It still looked the same as before but I think the food offerings were a little more. It's probably the difference between lunch and dinner but I don't know for sure as I didn't ask. The food was pretty good like before but there was no female diver feeding the fish in the giant tank.

Me's Bar-B-Que here or here — There was one day where the band kids had a lunch-is-on-you in between required activities. My friend and I wanted something more local like Keneke's but we couldn't travel too far due to the kids' responsibilities. Our last visit we walked by this place, Me's, on our way to L&L Hawaiian Barbecue. We thought about stopping but stuck with our original goal of trying L&L. This time with the kids, L&L was a possibility but it is a good walk from our hotel. Again, the time constraints were considered and we decided to stop at Me's Bar-B-Que. It wasn't too busy (see pic below). Me's had plenty of options familiar and not-so-familiar to choose from on their menu...way more options than the L&L Hawaiian BBQ in Plano, TX. Anyway, we ordered and everything was pretty damn good! Very good like Keneke's on our last visit although a few more items we were able to try/eat than offered at Keneke's. All in all, it was pretty good food for a decent price. I wish I had room in my belly to try everything on the menu. If you want something more of a local cuisine, definitely try this place. It looks a little scary (especially seeing the "Rent scooters here" sign and scooters right next to the seating area) but it's really good!


Order line at Me's Bar-B-Que


Me's Bar-B-Que (photo by Google Maps)


  SHARING RANDOM PHOTOS FROM OUR TRIP



Blow hole albeit not 'blowing'


Hanauma Bay


Secret Island Pavillion


Donkey Balls