Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Titillating Trivia Tuesday

I've come up with the idea of a new trivia Tuesday for my blog. I'll make the first one pretty easy and if you can guess the answer first, I'll be sure to give you a shoutout. If you guess three answers in a row first, then I'll provide you with the movie/a movie with the actor as a prize.

Each Tuesday, I will provide details for a mini game that sometimes will be 'Name that movie', 'Name that actor' or something else movie related.


Character Name:

Famous quote: "I want you to be nice...until its time to not be nice"

Early movie in his career: The Outsiders

Like I said, I made this one pretty easy. Next week will be more difficult...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Shhh....It's a secret

So when exactly did it become the 1920s again. If you talk to anyone in the fashion industry, they will be the first to agree that styles are cyclical. What was once trendy, will quickly become a passing phase, only to be revived years upon years later. Look at bell bottoms to boot cut jeans, or even the neon craze that occurred in the 90s just now becoming rejuvenated. So what trend am I talking about? Stealing a phrase I used in my most recent restaurant week posts:

Cue the Speak Easy.

So what exactly is a speak easy? Wikipedia describes it as:

A speakeasy was an establishment which illegally sold alcoholic beverages during the period of United States history known as Prohibition (1920–1932, longer in some states). During this time, the sale, manufacture, and transportation (bootlegging) of alcohol was illegal.

So the purpose of these speakeasys no longer is pertinent, but the idea behind is just now thriving. It isn't any different than any other themed bar, this theme, however just creates a very different environment than most people are used to. To name a few, The Violet Hour in Chicago, Bourbon & Branch in San Fran, Varnish in LA, PDT in NYC and last but not least, The Gibson in DC. These bars are quite amazing to be honest. The allure of the speak easy is that its hidden, intimate. When first created, it was to sell alcohol when it was not allowed. Now, these speakeasys take provide in providing you with an elite cocktail. You don't go to this type of place for a rum and coke, but your more traditional adult beverages, a Manhattan perhaps, to give you an idea of these timeless drinks. The bars will only use the top shelf liquor and provide you with mixers you either never heard of, or would never think to use.

My first experience was in NYC in the East Village. PDT, Please Don't Tell. Similar to the first rule of fight club, you don't talk about please don't tell. But here I go blabbing about it to all 6 of my readers (up from last week!). You walk downstairs to enter Crif Dogs, and immediately upon entry, you see an old school phone booth on your left. Walking in it looks like your run of the mill hot dog joint. You have plenty of people eating in the restaurant and you see an expansive menu by the front counter where you order. Much to my surprise, the friend I was with went straight to the phone booth and picked up the phone. Wait for it...the phone doesn't work. It's actually a door bell into the private cocktail lounge on the other side. The false back opens up and you see a beautiful dimly lit bar on the inside. Reservations are not required, but are definitely encouraged as the place is quite small. This isn't a place you take a big group of friends, but really just those you would like to enjoy conversation with. We were able to procure a nice booth that fit the 5 of us and squeezed in a 6th. The cocktails were pricey, but well made. I didn't recognize any of the drinks on the menu, but I like alcohol, so let's be honest, I was okay with anything. The drinks come out slowly because the bartenders hand craft each drink with several moving parts. That being said, I now want to educate myself on more of these timeless drinks that I can ask a cultured bartender to make. The experience was amazing. The service was fantastic, and all it takes is a little patience for a table. Probably the best thing about this bar, or any of these bars, is that a seat is required. No patrons standing around the bar. PDT was not crowded in the slightest, but had a long wait. Is this elitist? Perhaps. But I see it as more of the owner wanting a certain feel and experience to his bar, and that's exactly what he got.

Much to my surprise, it turns out there are a few speakeasys in the DC area. It's funny because at the time in NYC, I commented to those who I was with, there needs to be places like this in DC. Let's be honest. There are so many areas and so many things to do in DC, its easy to not know of everything, but considering this would be on the 'cool' side of things, I'm a very 'uncool' person so its no surprise I wasn't aware these places existed. Alexandria has PX which is located above Eamonn's restaurant. DC has The Gibson. It seems that Eric Hilton owns every cool bar in DC. For those of you who are not aware, he is from the musical group Thievery Corporation. I wouldn't be surprised if many of you are saying to yourself, who in the world is Thievery Corporation, but you will recognize this song from the Garden State soundtrack that everyone has. I would recommend a lot of their other music, but getting back to the point, Eric Hilton owns all the cool bars in DC. At least in my opinion, including 18th Street Lounge, Marvin and most recently the Gibson.

Located off of 14th Street on the corner of U St. is the ever popular Marvin. Right around the area you will find other popular bars such as Cafe St. Ex or even my friend's beloved Bar Pilar. U street continues to be the up and coming area and the recent addition of The Gibson is a testament to that. Beside Marvin at 2009 14th St. is an unmarked door with a small doorbell pad to the left. The most advertisement you will find is the top button with a strip of paper with 'The Gibson' printed on it. Inside the door is a random bare hallway that goes upstairs. It looks as if its the entrance to a storage area. The first door on your left however, leads into the bar. Manned by a nice gentlemen, the door is unmarked with a simple sign that says 'Please wait for host'. Inside is a dimly lit bar that is spacious. The dark wood bar is one of the first things you see with about a dozen seats. A few booths line the side into a larger room with a few tables sprawled along the sides. If you continue to the back, a backdoor seating area is available, opening up the bar for several more patrons at a time. Unlike your traditional bar, there is no standing room here and everyone must have a seat.

The music was fantastic, the ambiance unbeatable, and the wait staff very helpful. Often times, customers order traditional drinks like I discussed above and our waiter was curious as to what types of drinks we enjoy so that he can provide some good suggestions. My first drink was a summertime manhattan which was similar to a mint julep in that it was a manhattan with mint leaves. My second drink was a martini entitled a 'Scorched Earth' which was described to me include Laphroaig which is a very smokey scotch. I'm not a big scotch drinker (read: hates scotch) but it was pretty tasty. Would I recommend this place to anyone? Absolutely. Would I say its the cheapest place? No. But you must remember, like at any bar, you pay for not only the alcohol, but the experience and ambiance.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Restaurant Week Aug '09 Part 3

Considering that this is the third and final post in regards to restaurant week in the summer of 2009, I hope everyone isn't expecting much. Similarly to the film industry, trilogies are rarely good and I will warn everyone that this post will likely follow suit.

That being said, and now that all 5 of my readers have stopped, I'll make sure I put in as much effort in this post as the two others.

Cue (Thanks Robby) Charlie Palmer Steak.

If you have heard of this place but had NO idea where it was, then you'd fill the exact shoes I was in. I've heard of this elusive Charlie Palmer several times when speaking of the best steak houses in the city. It fills the list with others such as Bobby Van's, District Chophouse, Smith & Wollensky.

Located off of Constitution and 1st Avenue, it is just a block away from our nation's Capitol building. Walking into the lobby, you get the distinct feel that this is an upscale establishment. You walk into an expansive opening with a bar directly ahead of you. There are several small tables and booths along the side of the restaurant for those who are just drinking at the bar. The bar itself is long and narrow, filled with people that are way more important than me. Beers are served in glasses although they had no drafts. Clear sign of what kind of place this is. Another clear indication was the extensive scotch selection that they have on display. For some reason, when I think of Capitol Hill and lobbyists, I think of Scotch drinkers. We thought about getting a drink at the bar, but it was overly crowded and my attire was not pressed enough for me to feel comfortable with the other clientele, so we hopped down the block to My Brother's Place.

Fast Forward and its 730 and time for our reservation. Walking past the host's station, you walk down a small hallway that opens up to the rest of the restaurant. It's surprising how large this place really is. The tables were placed far apart so that conversations could remain quiet, a positive for important politicians I'm sure. The hallway is actually created as a corridor between the wine room. It's actually slightly raised and acts as a bridge over an internal pond of sorts which adds to the ambiance. The open room is well lit with nice artwork and designs that add to the experience. The general manager stopped by our table which was a very nice gesture. He provided us with business cards and said to be sure to call if we plan on another visit. Although it was obvious that we were younger folk that probably don't head to these dinners often and was clearly there for restaurant week, I respect it. It's the little things with me, I've said that my entire life.

The meal begins.

Sadly, I won't be able to provide as many details since the restaurant's website doesn't have the menu up any longer. That being said, I started with a Chilled Local Corn Soup. I talked about it before, but I would have to reiterate the quality of a great soup. I don't order them often, but it was quite tasty. The Maryland Blue crab was a delicious addition that was subtle and not overpowering. Any good bisque comes down to consistency and this chef had it spot on. There was a small dab of tarragon added which provided a nice balance of color and balance. The entree was a roasted sirloin with thinly sliced small potatoes. The dish isn't on their everyday menu and sadly, this is for good reason. While the cut of meat was good and the steak was prepared well, it wasn't something that screamed eat me. It was previously discussed amongst my friends of whether or not steak places are really the best establishments for restaurant week. There is no need to really showcase your restaurant because a good steak is a good steak, no nouveau fusions of flavors and foods necessary. You got your beef. You got your potato. You got your dish. That simple. The dessert turned out to be some sort of raspberry soup that looked much better than it actually was.

Would I go back? Probably. I don't think that I really had a dish that was representative of how good of a steak this restaurant can prepare, but at the same time, the restaurant is very well put together. I am left with mixed feelings. The one aspect that did 'wow' me was the fact that they had a portion of their wine menu that was called '25 for under 25' in which they listed 25 bottles of wine for $25 or less. What was really nice about this was that there were bottles that were even cheaper than $25. It was a very nice, unexpected touch to a high-end dinner. If you're going to spend $37 on a steak, it doesn't mean you necessarily want to spend $83 on a bottle of wine.

So that was it. All 3 of my restaurant week experiences. My friends and I discussed the idea of going to a nice dinner once a month that way we can try out more of these nice restaurants more often. I like the sound of it so perhaps I'll be able to do more of these restaurant write-ups. Don't everyone jump for joy at once...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Restaurant Week Aug '09 Part 2....

Cue Cafe Atlantico

I'm not sure if you all are like me. My guess is that none of you are like me, but may have a few common habits with me. One is watching television that I never thought I'd watch as a child: History channel, Discovery channel, HGTV, the food network and especially the travel channel. Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations is as good as programming comes in my opinion. He travels the world learning of different cultures, focusing on their culinary traditions. Recently, he came to DC during season 4 and visited a few local establishments you may have heard of: Ben's Chili Bowl, Busboys and Poets, Eamonn's to name a few. But, most importantly, at least for the purposes of this post, Mini Bar.

Minibar is a restaurant within a restaurant (kind of cool concept if you like that elitist type of thing) that is upscale in every possible way other than appearance. The restaurant it's in was the destination of my 2nd of three restaurant week reservations, Cafe Atlantico. The restaurant is located off of 8th and Pennsylvania which is hidden by a large fountain/outdoor area. Pennsylvania Avenue has a number of great restaurants that you should check out if you're ever in the city and want to try out a quality dining establishment. To name a few that I've been to, I would probably revisit Central, 701 restaurant and Chef Geoff's in that order.

Centralized by a Latin American theme, the restaurant spans three stories and is much smaller than one would assume when walking in. You are greeted immediately upon entry with what seemed to be 3 hostesses and a general manager (I'm sure this was just the case because it was restaurant week and it was even more high traffic than usual). You walk up a flight of steps and immediately see into an open kitchen with several chefs hard at work. Similar to Central, I like the idea of an open kitchen. It seems to be the recent trend and I approve. It seems silly, but it almost shows a confidence in what you're doing, even if no one really pays attention to what the chefs are doing. The tables are tight and the ambiance is lively. It being not the quietest restaurant, it almost adds to, not detracts from the experience. On the second floor, in the corner is an additional small kitchen, this, is Mini Bar. There are 6 seats located there and reservations are near impossible to get. With 2 separate reservations times a night, an intimate group setting for you and a date or small group of friends. This is a post about Cafe Atlantico, so I'll save more discussion for after I am able to procure a reservation.

Luckily thanks to yours truly, I was able to get a reservation for 10. I was shocked when I could not make the reservation on open table, but it seems the restaurant does not allow reservations of over 6 or 8 to be saved online. A couple phone calls later, we get a table on the third floor right by a back kitchen and we are on the side, almost getting a more private setting. The artwork on the walls were great, simplistic and somehow giving off a South American vibe. So after some good talk, it was time to start with the meal.

Starting off with some drinks, we pick out a couple of bottles of cheap wine, a malbec and a pinot noir, that everyone joins in to taste. Two of the girls order signature cocktails: an infamous passion fruit martini (orange rum and passion fruit juice with a ginger jalapeno infusion). I had a taste and I generally like 'stiff' drinks over sweet ones, but this one was a winner. No shock to anyone, Jon got a sweet martini as well, this one was of the magic variety. The Magic Mojito is poured atop a tuft of cotton candy, adding a sweet replacement to the traditional sugar cane. I must admit, it was pretty cool to see. After enjoying a few spirits, it was time to hit the menu...

The Appetizer

Carrot Soup: organic Tuscarora carrots, passion fruit

Heirloom Tomato Salad: watermelon, Cotija cheese, sherry dressing

Tuna Ceviche: coconut milk, avacado

Dominican Conch Fritters: jicama-avocado raviolis, passion fruit oil

At first glance, I really took a liking to the Tuna Ceviche. I love raw fish and love any sort of tartare dish. That being said, coconut milk scares me a bit. Not really anything scary about it, but it reminds me of thai food and how thickening it can be and wanted something a little less dairy. With my options now limited to three, I went with the Conch Fritters. I've only had conch once before at the airport at BWI (probably not the best location) but figured it sounded intriguing. I cannot emphasize enough how good of a decision this was. The fritters came out, I believe 3 or 4 puffy crunch pieces on a plate. It looked a little lackluster to be honest, but once you cut it open, you instantly began to salivate. The conch was prepared to perfection, a beigish color of sauce flooding out, balanced so well with the fried shell. Perhaps it was the passion fruit oil (I've never used or had this before), but it was a phenomenal start to the meal.

The Entree

Duck Confit: brussels sprouts, apples, raisins, pine nuts

Portobello Mushroom: huitlacoche, Chihauhua cheese, roasted beets, beet oil

Braised Beef Short Ribs: grilled eggplant, squash

Salmon, Veracruz Style: tomoatoes, olives, onions, and capers fresh lime and avacado

Grilled Skirt Steak
: mushrooms, green beans, truffled potato espuma

Being able to choose from an option of five different entrees showed me that Cafe Atlantico wasn't a restaurant that participated in restaurant week to merely get bodies into and out of the restaurant, but it was to impress those that came in. Providing a full gamut of types of food, I decided to select the Skirt Steak. It's funny because I chose the Skirt Steak because of an earlier experience at Georgia Brown's. I wasn't completely sold on any one particular dish, and defaulted to the skirt steak. A similar situation happened at Georgia Brown's, but i did NOT select the skirt steak. It turned out to be delicious and exceeded everyone's expectation. Although my steak was quite tasty, I was not wow'd. The food was tasty and the sides were crunchy and provided a little spice. The meat itself was very familiar and used a flavor I could not pinpoint. That being said, it wasn't a new flavor for my taste buds to dance around about. The green beans were in fact solid, however, definitely complimenting the steak well and adding to the overall satisfaction to the meal. The table actually did a great job of trying everything but the mushrooms and if I were to have another go at ordering, I'd order anything BUT the skirt steak. The salmon looked quite appetizing with a lemonish foam on top of the cut of fish. Cafe Atlantico is known for its use of texture with foods and restaurant was no different. The braised short ribs looked flavorful and seemed to fall right off the bone. Robby's duck confit was a large portion, with a colorful array of vegetables acting as a bed underneath. Again, don't get me wrong, I was not disappointed with my meal. It was one of those situations where you don't dislike your food, but all you are interested in is eating everyone else's dishes.

The Dessert

Warm Chocolate Cake
: warm chocolate cake, banana

Sorbet of the Day
: Mango

The dessert came and the chocolate cake was filled with warm chocolate fudge. The portion was sizeable and the cake was moist. Assuming that they probably served this to everyone that was in the restaurant, having so many well baked desserts is kind of impressive. A few people tried out the sorbet and enjoyed the mango, but I will admit seeing orange ice cream was kind of funny.

So that was it, Cafe Atlantico. It was tasty, good lively date spot, but I probably won't go back until I get a reservation at Mini Bar. Although the restaurant was high on the ambiance, I think the food was above average, but not exceptional. Maybe its the Latin American tinge, maybe it was just that it was restaurant week and the chef's didn't bring their 'A' game. I would never say that I won't go there again for dinner, but I'd probably choose to go to the plethora of new restaurants that I have yet to visit before making a repeat appearance.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Restaurant Week Aug'09...Part 1

I learned about restaurant week a few years ago and will admit that I am quite hooked. Perhaps its my desire to be a chef some day, or the idea of going to high brow venues, but i tend to make several reservations each season. This year was the first time I planned one for lunch though. Boy do I not regret it. I was slightly tentative because some restaurant's portions at dinner even are small and petite, so I can only imagine what it would be at lunch. I decided in order to really pull off a mid-day lunch that is 2 hours long, I should invite those whom I work with, that way they can't yell at me for taking too long. The trouble was that a trip into DC would take up WAY too much time, especially using the metro. Some of my coworkers don't ride the metro, so then they would have to buy metro cards, blah blah. DC nixed. Where then? Arlington has several restaurants, but I tend to believe the purpose of restaurant week is to try new places you wouldn't normally try or need a reason to patron. So, I'm left with NOT DC and NOT Arlington. Doesn't give me many options. Falls Church it is.

Cue 2941.

Where to begin? The restaurant is located off of Fairview Drive which is between Falls Church and Vienna. It's off the beaten path, close to the beltway, off of what seems to be an office park. The turn is hidden and to be honest, you would have zero chance of stumbling upon this restaurant, although you would be pleasantly pleased if you did. You drive up what seems to be a private drive and are greeted with complimentary valet parking. Always a nice touch. You walk up to a restaurant who's walls are made of enormous panes of glass. It takes up the corner of what seems to be an office building, with a small walkway above an enormous Koi pond. I don't know how much you know about Koi, but they are not cheap. These were the largest Koi I have ever seen. The pond was full of them, dozens. To the left you see how it trickles into a large waterfall into another small pond. Off in the distance is a man-made pond that is quite large, leaving what I would imagine an incredible view at night with the lights.

The interior was just as visibly pleasing. The restaurant was open, not too crowded, but you could see it wasn't enormous either. Tables were spaced far enough apart so that you could have private conversations. Immediately upon entering, you are wow'ed by a large glass/plastic 'jellyfish' looking display behind the hostess. The ceilings must be 20 feet tall, adding to the spacious feel. To the right is a small bar area that is intimate for perhaps a cocktail or two prior to your meal. I was astonished by the sheer size of these expansive mirrors 15 feet off the ground that lined the interior walls. Above one entryway, there was a classic painting of nude women. If you see artwork that includes nudity, you know you're at a high-class establishment.

Enough about the ambiance. Why did I really want to go here? The food. The restaurant is ranked No. 14 in Washingtonian's top 100 and No. 2 for restaurants in VA. Knowing this going in, my expectations were high and I will be the first to admit, I was not disappointed. The menu, although limited, still supplied a great range of dishes.

The Appetizer

The restaurant decided to give a typical 3 options:

Local Beet Tartare
: pickled cherries, Sicilian pistachios, petit salad

Hawaiian Red Snapper Carpaccio: citrus gelee, cilantro, heart of palm

Chilled Pea Soup: poached shrimp, summer truffle, orange oil

Out of those, I went with the Red Snapper Carpaccio that I'm sure most people would. 3 out of the 4 of us ordered this, with one ordering the pea soup. I'll discuss more about soups in the upcoming Charlie Palmer's post, but soup is underrated.

The appetizer was probably one of the most amazingly delicious appetizers I have ever had the treat of consuming. The taste was light, the heart of palm was tasty and balanced the flavors of the fish while adding a little texture and crunch. The red snapper was prepared to perfection with subtle flavors that seemed to balance so well with gelee. I can probably write about this appetizer at length, merely reiterating the same ideas of light and balanced, but I won't. I've eaten a lot of things in my day and I stand that this was incredible. If it was possible, I would have just eaten this as my meal.

The Entree

Veal Cheeks Ravioli: tomato confit, butter poached lobster, parmesan

Grilled Pacific Monchong
: lightly grilled and stained with turmeric, basmati rice, lychee, curry leaf

Grimaud Farms Guinea Hen Duo: crostini rillette, roasted breast, Jerusalem artichoke, natural jus

Based on the number of links that are included above, some of these dishes are not your spaghetti & meatball type of dish. I am always confused why particular restaurants make their dishes sound so overly complex, but if you read up on each of these topics, it makes sense. I think it just sounds complex to a lot of us because we don't come across it often or prepare food in this way.

First choice with the Ravioli is what I ended up going for, but I had trouble not choosing the monchong. I've been in a seafood kick recently and I had never even seen this type of fish offered before. The ravioli was delicious, as it sounds. The dish came back and the ravioli were not your run of the mill, typical ravioli shape. These were almost rectangular box. Each ravioli was filled with ground veal that was perfectly cooked (not under or over cooked). I was surprised by the number of ravioli (6 to 8) given the amount of food jammed into each pasta casing. It seemed that half of the plate was covered with balsamic vinegar and the other half filled with the tomato confit. It wasn't your thin, runny pasta sauce, but more of a finely chunky tomato sauce you would encounter at Ballston's Tirolo. The butter poached lobster wasn't mixed into the ravioli as I had expected, but rather strewn throughout the dish in little chunks to add into bites at your leisure. The entree was presented cleanly, of a good portion, and satisfied all.


I'm not the biggest dessert person. I've definitely gained a sweeter tooth for chocolate cake (although I dislike chocolate in general), which has opened up my ability to order desserts at restaurants since they are often chocolate focused. Again, the table had an option of 3:

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwich: Westmoreland County sweet cherries, sable breton

Pennsylvania Raspberry Parfait: fromage blanc panna cotta, lemon balm, warm madeleines

Semolina Pudding Cake: tulip poplar honey mousse, blueberries, sweet corn ice cream

Each one of these sounded delicious. It was not an easy decision, because if the Ice cream sandwich was not mint chocolate chip, and just regular chocolate chip, I think I would have pulled the trigger for that, however, with my sudden obsession with raspberries, I went with the Parfait.

I'm not exactly sure why, but I did not think the desserts would be overly classy, maybe just a little flair on the dish with some powdered sugar or chocolate syrup, but in reality, they were aesthetically beautiful. My parfait, which I assumed I was going to get in a sundae glass with the madeleines on top, was actually a bar, with layers of ingredients with the madeleines and raspberries placed on the plate with class (a touch of raspberry sauce strewn about). It was a good portion (not too large so you still had room for coffee) and was delectable. The lemon was not overpowering and the panna cotta had a great consistency.

I should have mentioned this earlier, but the restaurant also specializes in bread. The head chef bakes his own personal bread blends everyday that includes a multitude of different ingredients. I believe the blend we had was some sort of olive. Even his fresh baked wheat bread was tasty and I am not a fan of wheat bread at all.

The service was impeccable. Continuously ensured our glasses were full of water, any finished plate was immediately removed and even dusted the table for crumbs between courses (a personal pet peeve of mine that I love). There were so many people working it seemed like each table had their own personal server.

Immediately afterwards, I knew that this restaurant would be the winner of this restaurant week season, even though I had reservations at a couple of other great restaurants... In hindsight, my gut instinct was right.

Next up...Cafe Atlantico

Monday, August 17, 2009

One of those moments

I had one of those moments. You know, the moment you might come across while watching the history channel, or discover channel, or national geographic channel. Maybe its reading a biology text book. Maybe its watching/reading anything Carl Sagan ever did. The moment when everything comes into perspective. On a day to day basis, you never think about the world, or yourself, you go on living your life the way you do. I'm currently reading a book called The Mind of the Market by Michael Shermer I'm not sure why I got it, but every few months I hop onto Amazon and buy 3 or 4 books. This happened to be one of them months ago and I'm just now getting to reading it. I'm only 20 pages in, and I can assure you its not exactly what I thought it was. Well it is and it isn't at the same time. The underlying tone and message I think is on point, but the supporting arguments are a little unexpected.

I came across this excerpt (bear with me, its not short):

Life is a self-organized emergent property of prebiotic chemicals that came together in a manner that allowed them to be self-sustaining and capable of duplication and reproduction.

Complex Life is a self-organized emergent property of simple life, as when simple prokaryote cells coalesced into the more complex eukaryote cells of which we are made, which contain within them organelles that were once prokaryote cells (such as mitochondria, which have their own DNA).

Multicellular Life is a self-organized emergent property of single-celled life forms, which merged together as a cooperative strategy for more successful survival and reproduction.

Immunity is a self-organized emergent property of billions of cells of our immune system working together to combat bacteria and viruses.

Consciousness is a self-organized emergent property of billions of neurons firing in complex patterns in the brain.

Language is a self-organized emergent property of thousands of words spoken in communication among language users.

Law is a self-organized emergent property of thousands of informal mores and restrictions that were codified over time into formal rules and regulations as societies grew in size and complexity.

Economy is a self organized emergent property of millions of people pursuing their own self-interests with little awareness of the larger complex system in which they work.

So I can see how the author tried to explain how economies are organic, a product of evolution over time, but it made me think about life in general. Its like when you watch a Carl Sagan documentary and you realize how small our planet is within the universe. And then you think about how small you are in comparison to the planet. And then you think about what you are actually made of. It's utterly amazing. And you have to think that this impossible coincidence of chemicals and environment a billion years ago has to have occurred elsewhere. I think that those who believe there is no other intelligent life in the universe is an idiot. Plain stupid. Will a District 9 scenario occur? (see what I did there bringing this back to a movie) Probably not in our lifetime, but that doesn't mean it won't ever happen.

I don't often think about things like this, but I doubt I'm the only one that ever does from time to time. It was just one of those moments...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Movies Galore

I don't tend to write as many posts about upcoming movies as I should, but with all the hype and press that District 9 has been getting, it's gotten me excited for what else is on the horizon. I may have written about a few of these in the past but just deal with it. Nothing beats 30 minutes on Apple trailers every few weeks to see what else is coming up. I don't really buy Entertainment Weekly or any of those types of magazines so I don't necessarily read up on as many movies as I would like. So without further ado, here are some upcoming movies I look forward to and why they strike my fancy, click on the movie name to see the apple trailer:

District 9: August 14
This sci-fi thriller is based on aliens reaching our planet 20 years ago. They have been quarantined in South Africa and you may have seen some if their viral marketing with no alien signs etc... on park benches, buses. The renowned Peter Jackson (King Kong, Lord of the Rings) is the producer working alongside the major feature debut of Neill Blomkamp. It was rumored Neill was going to direct the currently scrapped project of Halo, but worked on this converted short film, Alive in Jo'burg, instead. Rotten Tomatoes currently has it rated as an 87% by Top Critics if that convinces anyone to go, but to me, reviews are useless.

Inglourious Basterds: August 21
Talk about a recipe for success. Quentin Tarantino. Brad Pitt. Enough said. An over the top film that takes place during World War 2. A secret band of soldiers that goes apeshit on Nazi Germany. Gratuitous violence? How can anyone say no. Guys will go for Tarantino and the bashing of Nazi soldiers. The girls will go to watch Brad Pitt.

Extract: September 4
Mike Judge is making movies again. Its been 3 years since his last film Idiocracy. I don't think it was a crowd favorite, and I will admit that I did not like it the first watch through, but after the second viewing, it was pretty damn smart. I have a lot of faith in his new project 'Extract' with the help of talents like Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristin Wiig, and J.K. Simmons. I never really liked Kristin Wiig at first, but she's really grown on me as a comedic actress. Jason Bateman was involved in the greatest sitcom the world has ever seen, Arrested Development. Mila Kunis seems to be transitioning well onto the big screen from her tv career. After watching Forgetting Sarah Marshall, its clear she can handle herself and carry a film with a supporting role. Oh yeah, and Ben Affleck is in it, but that doesn't really add much for me.

Law Abiding Citizen: October 16
Just recently came across this film mostly because I have a small man-crush on Gerard Butler. Most of you know of him as Leonidas from '300', but most recently you might have seen him in a preview for the romcom 'The Ugly Truth'. I normally watch films based on the actors included, and not always because of the story and I will definitely see more of Butler's movies. (Maybe not Gamer, which seems to be like Death Race in a different medium). The most recent film I saw him in was Shattered which was well done. But back to the point. Gerard Butler seems to be back to his bad ass role in 'Law Abiding Citizen' after his child was murdered and the judicial system doesn't work the way he wants it to. Jaime Foxx finally moves away from his most recent trend of 'Ray' and 'Soloist' roles into a lawyer or detective that needs to figure out what's going on and stop Butler. F.Gary Gray directs the film which also makes me think the movie will work out. He's come a long way from his award winning Waterfalls music video. He's directed other well known films such as 'Friday', 'The Negotiator', and 'The Italian Job'. Hopefully everyone reading this has seen each of those movies.

The Box: October 30
Although you might think so, this is not a porno film. It pains me to admit to it, but wanting to see this movie means that I want to see a film that stars Cameron Diaz. Getting over that hurdle, this has cool movie written all over it. The concept is fantastic, but executing it well might be tough. Richard Kelly writes and directs in this suspenseful supernatural thriller about a box that kills a random person in the world, but then betters their life. It seems to be from the trailer more of a movie about good and evil and how it plays out with humanity, but Frank Langella stars as what could be the devil. I think what really excites me about this film (again it has religious undertones) is that Frank Langella stars as the creepy old guy. I thought his role in 'The Ninth Gate' (a favorite Johnny Depp movie of mine) was fantastic which seems to have a similar genre to this upcoming film. We'll see how much press this movie gets in the upcoming month or two, but I wouldn't be surprised if it flops. Although Kelly also wrote and directed Donnie Darko, a cult favorite, he was also behind the movie 'Southland Tales' which was absolutely horrendous. I'll cross my fingers on this one, but wouldn't be surprised if I couldn't find anyone to head to the theater with me.

The Book of Eli: January 15
Since I was just talking about Mila Kunis, it seems fitting she made it onto a second upcoming film watch of mine. Denzel Washington stars as one of the few survivors after the end of the world. The trailer is pretty light in plot, but it seems has has a book that holds the balance of the fate of humanity (seems like a lot of movies use this plot). Gary Oldman stars as the evil villain, and to be honest, he plays this party so well. Other than his role as Sirius Black (if you don't know who that is, you should be ashamed) I can't really think of any 'good guy' roles hes played. He was an awesome bad guy in 'The Professional' and in 'The Fifth Element'. Both movies you should see immediately if you haven't done so already. Denzel has a good track record with movies. Especially with badass roles. 'Man on Fire' comes to mind, another film that's a must watch. I even liked his recent film 'Deja Vu'. So I think its pretty safe to say that even if this isn't an oscar worth film, you won't regret spending a couple hours to watch it.

Legion: January 22

I don't know what it is about me, but any sort of religious movie always gets me. I'm trying to think of examples, and they are few and far between, but movies like 'Stigmata', 'End of Days', and 'Constantine'. I went to catholic school as a little kid and although I'm not very religious, it all fascinates me a great deal. Paul Bettany plays the Archangel Michael who is out to save humanity from all other angels. You may recognize him from classic films such as 'A Knight's Tale', 'A Beautiful Mind' and 'Wimbledon'. Enough movie name dropping. It looks as though there is the typical special child that will save humanity and its a religious war to end all wars. Story seems simple, but I never get tired of it. Scott Stewart directs for the first time from a very successful visual effects career which leads me to believe this is going to be very fun to watch. And if you need another reason to go see it other than my backing (which I'm sure you all do), Kate Walsh is in it and what guy isn't in love with her?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Ip Man

More than likely, not a single person reading this blog is going to know a lick about this movie. But often times, that does not mean that its not worth watching. A lot of smaller indie films have a lot to offer, not that this movie fits into that category. Since you know nothing about this film, I'm going to tell you a little secret, I didn't know anything about this movie either. All I knew was that it was a kung fu movie, and really, even bad kung fu movies are good.

So this movie took place in some province in China (probably northwest) in the early 1930s. Master Ip is a renowned martial arts master, who is very humble reserved. It seems that theme of most of these old chinese movies, kung fu isn't as much about the physical power and speed, but about the psychological control. Watching him, you can see how balanced he is at all points in time. Even when he fought. Never a break of sweat, everything is so intentional and methodical. All of the townspeople know of his greatness, but there are several other martial arts masters in town, all with schools.

Throughout the film, he shows his utter calmness and is very humble. He gives his friend money to start a cotton factory, and asks for nothing in return, and to pay him back when he can. Years go by and the Japanese invade. The town turns to shambles and everyone is poor. and he is too proud of a man to ask for any help.

Enough of the plot, I didn't watch this film because I thought it was going to be awe-inspiring or the film of 2009. I watched it because Kung Fu movies are the shizzy. The fight scenes are amazing. It seems that actual Chinese movies always do a better job of the choreography, maybe its because they don't have rules out there and they are actually beating the shit out of each other. I'm not sure exactly. At one point in the film, he's at a facility with Japanese solders who are studying kung fu and the General watches sparring matches. He is pissed off since he watched his friend die at the hands of the Japanese military, so he asks to take on 10 fighters. At the same time. One word, wow. He holds nothing back as he just destroys these poor oppressing souls. I'm not sure if you have seen Ong Bak before (see US title: The Protector) but its similar in nature of badassedness. I know its not a word, but it should be.

The final scene to the film was a little anti-climatic. The fight scene was good, he re-unites the Chinese and is a living legend to this day (he trained Bruce Lee among dozens of others), but I wanted more out of the fight. I guess when you have two very well trained Kung Fu masters, there isn't a lot of beating the crap out of each other because they are too good for that. A lot of defense and lack of hitting/blocking. But well done nevertheless. There was only one portion I didn't believe which seemed really odd.

SPOILER (He gets shot in the shoulder and passes out? He's too strong for that.)

All in all, I'd give it 2.5 out of 5 Manatees. You won't feel like you wasted your life, but its nothing to write home about.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I don't think I've ever been so traumatized by a film like I was with this. It was winner at Sundance back in 2007 for best actress, a young and upcoming girl by the name of Jess Weixler. Most likely haven't heard of her, but she was in 7 movies in 2009, so hopefully she gets some more press in the coming years.

It's True, Vagina Dentata!!

Best line of the movie, but it was very fitting. When I heard this, I didn't think there was a chance in hell that this was real, but I am a man that believes in wikipedia, and by golly, it was on wikipedia. Yes, I just said by golly. So its apparently an old folklore of women that have teeth, in their, well, I think you get the idea. For any man, this is the scariest thing known to man. The idea of it makes me shutter. Without getting to direct and graphic, teeth are already a problem with one type of sex, both types really just scares all parties involved.

Let's talk about the movie in general. The idea of it is actually a good theme. Remove the horror comedy aspect, and you have a film that explores the vulnerability of women. The teeth represent an empowerment that she could have over her interactions with men. She starts off as part of a celibacy group. Promise to god to stay pure. She meets a guy in her 'group' who obviously going to be the biggest sexual aggressor. Isn't it funny how that always works out? Catholic school kids are always the most messed up. There are always exceptions to the rule, but its a rule because it happens a majority of the time. The first appearance of her 'teeth' comes when she's getting raped. Clear sign that this is her need to protect herself. She's out with a guy from her celibacy group, and she's not even safe there.

The movie gets more and more bizarre and obscene. There was the one 'loser' that 'conquers' her and it turns out he wasn't the nice guy at all, but a sexual predator who had a bet to get her into bed. BOOM! Teeth make an appearance again. She was able to protect herself again.

The creepy step brother that always wanted to sleep with her? Protection. The random old guy that gave her a lift? Protection. You watched her transform from the start to end of the movie. From scared, helpless girl who was freaked out, to a girl that was confident, calculating, empowered.

There were a lot of graphic scenes (I know I keep saying this, but I can't say it enough) but all in all I thought it was a pretty solid movie. This movie poster to the right kind of gives you an idea... Will I ever look at a girl the same way? Probably not. But nevertheless, I would in fact recommend it for its weird premise and awesome visualizations.

I give the movie 3.5 Manatees.

Monday, August 10, 2009

When you're at that age...

So everyone hits that age when they feel like they are at a crossroads. It might be right before you go to college, it might be right afterwards, or it might be where I am now, a few years after you graduate. Some may call it a quarter-life crisis, but maybe its just growing up.

I'm on my second job since graduating, but only held my first job for about 9 months. Four and a half years into Job #2, I've done well for myself, but is it really what I want to do for the next 5 years? Probably not. Do you move jobs? Do you go back to school? Everyone has a lot of friends that have been real good about continuing their education. I have lawyer friends, friends that have gone back to get their MBAs or some other graduate degree. But I don't really want to go back to school just because I don't know what to do, that seems like a horrible idea. Recently I've had a few friends head back to school and some have been rather confident that I'd like it, but with my undergrad GPA, is it worth going to a school that isn't a top 20?

I feel like a lot of people my age find themselves doing something because its a paycheck, and not because its their career. How long does one wade water before its time to move on? I grew up right outside of DC and that's where I find myself today. Does a new job mean a new city? Perhaps, but where do I go? In the past few years, I've found myself traveling to places like Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco, Boston, New York. Do any of them fit me? I feel like you never know until you try it out. But maybe I'm just scared. Moving to a new city by yourself is never easy. I'd like to think of myself as not a chicken shit, but maybe I am. I look at a few of my good friends and I have Ari who moved out to LA because he wanted to. Raf went down to Argentina for a couple months and is now moving to China. Yousef is moving to Chicago to start his acting career. I envy these people. I respect them for their ability to do it. All these people in all these places. I guess I have options, but where do I even start.

I contemplate this quite often, but continue to stay on my current course, not knowing where I'm going. How do I leave all my friends and all that I know? I get jealous when I see people traveling the world or doing something that they love for a minuscule paycheck just because they are enjoying life. It sounds trite, but I try and live life, not watch it go by. The words I live by are that I work to live, not live to work. But can I ACTUALLY do it? Maybe one day I'll have the courage. When I do, who wants to start anew with me in a new city and where should we go?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Live at Radio City

So it seems that in this world, you have two types of people. Those that really like Dave Matthews Band, and those that really don't. Maybe its because some people equate DMB to summer drinking and smoking weed and that's why people like it? Nostalgia? And others think that he comes out with a new CD every year for the past 20 years (actually pretty true) and all of his music is so similar. There is so much good music in the world, why not explore it more? Well I love DMB and I love other music. This past weekend I went to Kings Dominion and pulled a Will Peng (lost my phone) so I was a bit cutoff from the outside world as all my roommates were out of town. This morning I popped in the Dave Matthews Band - Live at Radio City bluray. I was never a big 'lets watch a concert on dvd' type of guy, but I figured it was good background music and watching while I cleaned my room etc.

So why did I choose this in particular? one person really, Tim Reynolds. Growing up, Dave & Tim Live at Luther College was my favorite CD. A) I love DMB as I mentioned, but when he performs with Tim Reynolds, you get the mix of all the great songs you like, but with a slightly different feel, especially with all the newer songs (Live at Luther College was recorded in 95). So you pretty much have 2 guys on stage with acoustic guitars playing these songs that would normally have 7 different musicians. Does everyone remember all those 'unplugged' CDs that MTV came out with back in the day? I dunno what it is about Acoustic guitars that are so awesome, but anytime I listen to an acoustic song, it makes me want to learn how to play the guitar. Its a damn shame that I'm so horrible at it. My finger dexterity is the absolute worst.

Tim Reynolds must be one of the most talented guitarists of our generation. I put him up there with John Mayer. I know what most of you are thinking, John Mayer is a douche. Well I really liked his older stuff, but I did in fact see him in concert and it is irrefutable that he is an extremely talented guitarist. But Tim Reynolds is something else, let me tell you. Being able to watch him play is really quite a spectacle. The last rift on their rendition of Lie in our Graves is absolutely amazing. There was one cover they also did that I never heard before titled 'Down by the River' (no not the SNL skit) that was really pretty awesome. I'm actively seeking a copy of this album specifically for that song.

If you liked Live at Luther College, then you will love this CD as well. They put on quite the show and its always amazing to listen to. I know that the two of them don't go on tour very much (this tour in 07 was only 3 locations, and I almost attended this one) but next time they go on tour together, I will travel to see it and spend the $100+ for a ticket. I have yet to see #41 live which is my favorite DMB song of all time, and possibly favorite song in general. Any takers? I can't go on this destination concert alone...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


So I remember seeing previews for this a few months before it came out. A bunch of no name actors and my beloved Kristin Stewart. The fact she was in Twilight pretty much ruins her for me, but if anyone knows a girl that is like her, please introduce her to me. The story is about a well educated guy who graduates from college planning on going on a European backpacking trip before Grad school at Columbia. I had never seen Jesse Eisenberg in a film before, or at least realized it. He was in both The Village and The Education of Charlie Banks.

The movie takes place in the late 1980s at an amusement park. If I were to put the tone of the film into a short sentence, its about a young man's development with his emotions and women. There are some funny scenes, but I wouldn't really classify it as a comedy. Ryan Reynolds has a small role in the film that seems odd to me, but I think the purpose of his character is important. What took me a long time to figure out is James friend, Joel. Turns out that he's the guy from Freaks and Geeks. Pretty sweet if you ask me.

So going back to Ryan Reynold's character. I like him as an actor, I see a lot of his movies, but he's kind of a d-bag in this one. It's tough for me to swallow because this is the same guy that shows his pubes in Blade 3, but it's true. He's a married man sleeping with my future girl (Kristen Stewart) on the side. He even tries to convince James that liking Em (Kristin's character) is a bad idea. But then again, Em's character is pretty screwed up. She hates who she is, she doesn't know what she wants, extremely self-conscious. So pretty much like any girl between the age of 14 and 32. God I love women. They are just a puzzle that you want to solve.

It's clear that James' character is more literature oriented, he's a deep thinker, he's a virgin after college, a romantic at heart. You feel for his character as the movie progresses as he tries to find himself. It seems like his ruined summer at a shitty amusement park actually is helping him get to be who he wants to be.

I was skeptical about the movie from the onset, but as the movie progressed, it turned out to be pretty solid. I would definitely recommend it to anyone. The movie turns out to be pretty true to life. How guys and girls interact and the shit that happens in between. It's not an action film, or a thriller, or really a comedy, so it fits in when you aren't sure what you are in the mood for.

I will say one scene really made it for me. Bill Hader hops out of the office with a bat and starts screaming to a crazed patron, GIVE ME A REASON! GIVE ME A FUCKING REASON! That quote may or may not be engraved on a lighter that my good friend Ari gave me for Christmas.

I give the film 4 out of 5 Manatees. Check it out at your nearest netflix or 1920 N. Vance St.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's going to be Legen....wait for it...Dary!

So approximately a year ago, there was a deal on one of my favorite websites, www.slickdeals.net What was it? The first 3 seasons of How I met your mother ran me a grand total of $27. I had never seen the show, but heard positive remarks from two separate people. Because its me, that was good enough to make the purchase. Okay..okay, let's be honest, if I heard a negative remark, I probably still would have made the purchase.

After episode one, I was sold. The cast was great, Jason Segel always was worth a good laugh, Alyson Hannigan looks ridiculously good, NPH is well...NPH and I feel like Ted Moseby is like someone in everyone's group of friends. The hopeless romantic that believes in fairy tale endings, only he's a dude instead of a chick.

The dynamic between the group of friends and the endless sexual tension between Ted and Robin is just fun to watch. You have the married couple that are always happy, the alpha male that just likes to sleep with women, the hopeless romantic and the girl that people want to sleep with but don't because they are friends.

It's been a long time since I've really enjoyed a true 30 min sitcom, probably the days of Seinfeld, Scrubs etc.. Obviously there is the Office now, but I think you get the gist. I beg you, if you like comedies and you are my age, you will love How I met your mother. Go rent it/buy it/borrow it immediately.

5 out of 5 Manatees.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


So I finally have internet again. I finished my move. Things are finally settling down and I can get back into the swing of things. Hopefully I didn't lose all 4 of my readers in my brief hiatus.

So while cleaning up my room a bit, I decided to watch a movie since I have a big queue of them to see. At the top of my list was a movie entitled 'Push'. More than likely, you've only heard of this movie a long time ago, and I'm not going to lie, it's probably that way for a reason. I wouldn't say the film was bad by any means, but I can assure you that it wasn't great. Who would you recognize in the film? A somewhat grown up Dakota Fanning. A svelt Chris Evans, aka the human torch. The black guy from all the good movies, Djimon Hounsou. If the name isn't familiar, he was the black slave in Gladiator, the African peasant from Blood Diamond, the extra from Stargate, the list goes on.

So what is the film about? Its in the near future (from what I could tell) in a world where there are people with special powers. Some are 'pushers' some are 'sniffers' some are 'readers'. I'm sure none of that makes sense, but think of these people all with subtle super powers. Levitation, telokinesis, things of that nature. The backstory was pretty cool saying it started during world war 2 with Nazi Germany. I say that its cool because that part is actual truth. Back in the day from what I remember (from reading obviously) Nazi Germany did all sorts of research to try and get a leg up in the war. People were found and branches of the govt were formed to carry on research after the war was over. The goal? The perfect solder, with heightened powers of course.

Yadda yadda yadda, fast forward. The film ends. It had its cool pieces, but I must admit seeing a semi-grown up Dakota Fanning through me for a loop. Am I sick when I say I bet she's hot when she's 5 years older? Will, I'm looking in your direction since I know you'll say that's only normal. Action sequences seemed vanilla since movies such as these have been done before. There was no real creativity or innovation involved, but the way the ending panned out did actually surprise me. Not often am I confused and surprised by twists, but this did a pretty good job. So there are some pros associated to the film.

Would I say its worth a rental? probably not, but worth a $1 redbox? If there is nothing else, I would comfortably say maybe.

I give the film 2.5 out of 5 Manatees.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

No internet?!?

I find it amazing how dependent society is on the internet. Maybe its just me? Granted, I'm an electronicphile, but still. Yes, I made that word up. Add it to your vocabulary. I moved in approximately 2 weeks ago and I don't get internet until June 2. Not only has this move been very trying on my blogging, but having no internet has been absolutely horrible. I can't surf at work as much, I depend on my iphone in order to check on Fantasy baseball and the latest celebrity blogs. Gchat to stay in touch with people from time to time. It makes me think back to the days of when I used AOL dialup, when I used to download MP3s from FTP websites.

I look at my nephew and wonder what his life is going to be like growing up with all this technology. At less than 3, he was using my brother's iPhone to play games. Sadly, he probably knows how to use more features for the iPhone than I do.

Anyways, for the handful of readers I have, I wanted to add a quick post while I'm sitting in Robby's parents basement, choosing not to sleep before my trip out to the West Coast.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Urban Species

So I came across this song recently. I don't know what it is about it, but I think its got such a good sound to it. There aren't too many songs out there that are the slow rhythmic sound with a mix of hip hop flow mixed in. I've always been a sucker for female vocalists and I've been a fan of Imogen Heap for years. I haven't heard anything with her in it for quite some time, but I recognized her voice immediately.

Give it a try and maybe it can make an appearance on the infamous 'ur humble narrator' blog.

Without further ado: Urban Species feat. Imogen Heap - Blanket

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

State of Play

What is it about British TV shows and series that makes them so damn good. Don't get me wrong, we have our solid shows here in the States. Lost for example. But think about it, what good tv shows are there? The office? Oh yeah, that was British first. American Idol? Copied as well. One show that they haven't redone quite yet is called 'Hustle'. It was aired on AMC and my oh my, what a great f-ing show. If you haven't seen it, I HIGHLY recommend you giving it a whirl. Reminds me of the old school movie 'The Sting' starring Robert Redford. Classic movie about the long con. Long con's are the best. They are just fun to watch and you get so excited when it finally all comes together at the end. It's amazing how smoothly things go and its not to the extent where its unbelieveable. Well...sometimes it is, but mostly its not. If you look it up on wikipedia, it states, "A confidence trick or confidence game (also known as a bunko, con, flim flam, gaffle, grift, hustle, scam, scheme, or swindle) is an attempt to defraud a person or group by gaining their confidence." A more contemporary film you may have heard of is actually named 'Confidence' starring Edward Burns, Rachel Weisz and Dustin Hoffman. Long con at its best.

I tend to stray from the main focus of each post, but I think its often for a good thing. State of Play was a British mini-series that aired back in 2003. You may or may not have seen previews for the movie that recently came out starring Ben Affleck, Russell Crowe, Jason Batemen, Robin Wright Penn, Jeff Daniels and the list goes on. Here's a link to the trailer. So originally, it was supposed to be Ed Norton and Brad Pitt, but they were busy, so the recent trend of fat movie stars in starring roles came to fruition (see Russell Crowe lately?) I highly doubt the movie will be anywhere as good as the British mini-series. The series is spaced out over 6 episodes. I wanted to give it a go because of the movie and the likelihood that it would be better because its British. Man was I right. It keeps you on your seat, the story never wanes, its not high action, yet its still keeps you on your toes, wondering what will happen next. As the saying goes, how far does that rabbit hole go? Intriguing mystery/thriller that I 100% endorse. You won't regret it.

More than likely, my word isn't enough for you to check it out, so I can throw some names out of who is starring in it: Bill Nighy from the wonderful Underworld series (or Love Actually if you're a girl). The up and coming James McAvoy in an understated role he knocks out of the park. Kelly Macdonald from the previously reviewed 'Choke'. Polly Walker who also stars in my beloved 'Caprica' pilot. and lastly, Marc Warren who also stars in the previously mentioned 'Hustle' as Danny Blue.

I give the mini-series a 4.5 out of 5 Manatees.

Monday, May 4, 2009


There was a lot of press about this movie for a short period of time. What was the press about? This girl in this costume:
Don't get me wrong, this is the only reason I heard of this movie. But to be honest, my love for Veronica Mars aside, it turned out to have a lot of pretty funny cameos. Seth Rogan showed up as two separate character. Jay and Silent Bob. William Shatner even. The main characters were people you'd recognize from a handful of movies. It was most likely a very fun movie to make, but the movie itself was sort of more serious than I thought. The reason for the road trip was something that was a bit more serious than expected, but not in a bad way.

I wouldn't say that this type of humor would mesh with a lot of people, but there are definitely some solid laughs to be had. Without giving much of the plot away, there is a group of friends, road trip, friendships renewed, love found, happy ending. The movie wasn't too long and it didn't even really drag on too much. Not something I would say is worth making time for, but you most likely would not regret sitting back to it on a lazy day.

But while I'm on the subject mentioned above, Miss Kristin Bell is a gem in my eyes. Very cute, but not to the extent she's unattainable. I first came across her in her old UPN show, Veronica Mars, that was later transitioned over to the CW before being unjustly cancelled after three seasons. If you aren't too familiar with her, she was in fact Sarah Marshall, another great movie that gets better with each viewing. If you need a new show to pick up and like shows that you can just catch up on via DVD, I strongly recommend Veronica Mars. My brother, shocker, got me onto it and I was amazingly surprised by the quality of it. I bet if it was on another network, say...ABC, it would have had a stronger following. No Netflix? Use me. I am the proud owner of all seasons.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Baseball season '09

America's favorite pastime. What is a pastime? That's a damn good question. For those of you who enjoy baseball, you think of a pastime as an activity, a sport. For those of you who don't, you probably think it means boredom.

Your Washington Nationals will most likely be the worst team in the MLB once again, but luckily they have locked down Mr. Ryan Zimmerman (UVA class '05). He's been in the league for a few years now, always with so much 'potential' but his most recent 22-game hit streak is finally showing that he is in fact ready to be the franchise player that the team so desperately needs. Granted, the team won't start winning until they can really lock in some pitching, especially their bullpen, but glimpses of beauty appear every once and awhile. That's the beauty of baseball though, or any sport really. You can head out to the game one day and have the game of your life, and the worst of your career next. You never know what to expect. No rhyme, no reason, just falling into the 'zone'. The Nationals best pitching prospect is a Jordan Zimmermann. He's got some talent but needs to lose some of the wetness behind his ears before he can really start to make a difference. Looks like the key to the Nationals success is to keep drafting players with the last name Zimmerman(n).

Catching some dogs and beers in the thick of summer while catching up with people outdoors is what makes the game such a pastime. It's a reason to come together and enjoy a game. Luckily, there are over 160 games in a season, so most of the time, people don't even pay attention to what's going on but for maybe an hours worth of a 3 hour game. Having such a bad team is both a blessing and a curse. Obviously a winning team is incredible to watch, i.e. your Washington Capitals. But having a team that is still trying to build its legacy allows you to walk up to the game and grab a $5 ticket. Nothing can beat a nice afternoon for $5. A McDonald's extra value meal costs more than that.

I was never a crackerjacks fan, so throw me some peanuts and a few Bud Lights and take me out to the ballpark.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Battlestar Galactica / Caprica

I know what everyone is already thinking. Man, Rick is the biggest geek in the world. But let me ask you, why is anything sci-fi geeky? Is it because of what people think of when they think of Star Wars or Star Trek? Is there just a stigma associated with it? I watched Star Trek as a kid, that doesn't mean I had an awkward social life (I did, but not in relation to the TV show...or maybe it was..) The new Star Trek film comes out in a couple weeks. I don't think I've been so excited for a movie in quite some time. The previews look great. It's JJ Abrams and I pretty much love anything this guy does. It has Harold from Harold and Kumar, Simon Pegg, the bad dude/good dude from Heroes. Good cast and what is bound to be a good film. I will be forcing you all to see this with me at midnight. Here's the trailer.

So after that little tangent. back to the focus of this post. Battlestar Galactica was an old '70s show that they started anew about 5 years ago. My brother got me onto the show as he usually does with most shows. I must admit. I was extremely impressed from the get go. There have been a few movies, and 5ish seasons, but the series finale went down not too long ago. I've found myself running through season 4/5 and I forgot how good it really is. It's won countless awards and is even the source of its own spinoff which I believe some network is picking up. (Not sure which). The pilot is called Caprica, which is one of the 12 planets in which humans live before the war went down. Seems quite interesting as well.

I give the show 4.5 Manatees. So that in itself should be reason enough to check it out.

It's been awhile...

So it's been almost 2 weeks since my last post. I've been a little busy I guess, but thinking back, I'm not exactly sure what I was doing. The weather is changing so maybe that's the answer. I'd like to get back into the swing of things and get back to a few posts a week. So many things are going on right now. Although Fall is my favorite season, Spring could be the most fun. What happens in the Spring? The weather obviously. 70 and 80 degree days, non-stop? check. Golf season starts up? check. Outdoor drinking and therefore drunk jenga on me? check. check. check. I played golf twice this past week and I must admit, I love it so much. I'm so glad my dad got me into the sport when i was younger. The biggest drawback is how damn expensive the sport is. Luckily there are a few websites that you can find some greens fees deals at, but I wouldn't really call $50 a steal in any other manner. What sport other than skiing is that expensive? It's ridiculous, yet that might be the reason why its a very fitting sport for me. I played at two courses, Old Hickory and Raspberry Falls. These courses were absolutely beautiful. The problem with beautiful courses is that they are out in the country. What does that mean? A) it takes you forever to drive there, and B) allergy central. I had problems breathing and seeing the entire day. But back to the point, not that I have one. I used to be a big TV guy. I'd watch dozens of shows and watch so many movies and I've been off of it. I need to get back to my roots. I will make efforts to continue to review movies and tv shows.

Looking back on it, this was the most random post I'll probably ever have.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Charlie Bartlett

I need to get back to my roots. Movies. Charlie Bartlett. I haven't watched any of my movies in queue for quite some time. I didn't hear much about this movie other than it was the 'new' Ferris Buehler. Do I agree? Not exactly. It was a good movie, don't get me wrong. I was actually surprised by what a good movie it was. But a big wildcard was Robert Downey Jr. I didn't realize he was in the film and to be honest, he stole the show.

The movie is about a kid that is kicked out from countless private schools and ends up at a public school. Not an unusual story line. He turns out to be a go to for advice and drugs. Not drugs in the sense of acid, weed, cocaine, like one would imagine, but mental drugs from the ever-present problem of over prescribing non-over the counter drugs. He finds his place in school and finally becomes one of the popular kids. The only real problem I had with this was that it was to the extent that was a little unbelievable. High school kids are malleable, but not quite to this extent. It featured the kid brother from Alpha Dog, a great movie by the way, as well as the girl from Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, also a good film. Those three actors/actresses alone (including Robert Downey Jr.) makes the film worth watching. It shows how impressionable high schoolers really are, and how much they just need someone they can talk to, without having to hide anything. Later in the film, it even shows how the 'popular' kids don't even have their stuff together. Kids are kids, they still are trying to put together who they really are. Let's be honest, at 26, I'm still doing the same thing, granted I have a much better idea.

Robert Downey, Jr. is on a roll. He's really come out of the cellar with great performances everywhere, starting with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. If you haven't seen that movie, put it at the top of your list. Great movie.

Characterization is strong, story is above average. I guarantee you will be entertained, give it a roll at Red Box if you do the $1 movies.

I give it 3 Manatees. You won't be floored, but you won't regret spending 2 hours of your life in front of the TV.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Frozen Four

I would be the last person on this planet to ever believe that I would one day get into hockey. I remember being so disappointed as a kid when that was the only thing on. The whole Fox 'blue puck tail' was the coolest thing that the sport had for the short-lived season. That kind of sums it up. But my how things change as you grow up. You start to not judge things quite as much and are willing to give anything a try.

One week ago, I attended my very first NHL hockey game. Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres. It's amazing how electric the crowd was. But that wasn't even the most amazing part. I've been to Wizards games before and I must say, nose-bleed seats are not the greatest thing for a basketball game. You are just too far away from the action and some seats are definitely better than the others. Basketball is too focused on one side of the court of the other. Teams run plays, Free throws are there, in-bound passes. The game is just a slower pace.

Hockey on the other hand. Wow. Even in the 400 level, seats were great. I can only imagine what it would be like right up against the glass. The game is fast paced, there are only a few stoppages a period. And the puck is always moving. Its never really focused on a specific side for very long. The game I attended went into OT, Sabres winning 5-4. Great game, bad outcome.

So being so open to the idea of attending another hockey game, my friend Laura was gracious enough to offer up some extra tickets she had to the Frozen Four which happened to take place in DC this year. Biggest drawback? It's an NCAA event, thus no booze flowing. Thank goodness for Rocket Bar (one of my personal favorites) and RFD before and between games. The games were Bemidji State vs Miami (OH) and Vermont vs BU. As a side note, few of you probably knew that Ben Roethlisberger is a Miami (OH) alum. The first game was cool because Bemidji State made it to the semi-finals as the lowest seed in the tournament, cool in any sport. Everyone loves an underdog. Watching the game, however, it quickly became evident why they were the 16 seed. They were sloppy on the ice, but they had a lot of heart. The second game was probably one of the greatest games I'll see. I dunno if that's a good or a bad thing. BU ended up winning 5-4, but it was great. The atmosphere was tense, and it came down to who wanted it more. I will say that I was sort of amazed by how many BU students travel. We were sitting next to the student section, jam-packed with 200+ students with unified chants. Impressive. It probably added to the excitement, but I think I may in fact become a hockey fan. Who'da thunk it? I guess it helps when the Nationals are arguably the worst team in baseball, and Wizards one of the worst in the NBA. Washingtonians don't really have a choice. Is DC going to turn into a Hockey town? Maybe. But the skins, in the few select good times and mostly bad times, will always be the heart and soul of the this area's fan market. But since I refuse to ever become a true Redskins fan, who wants to buy me a Capitals jersey? Can you believe how expensive they are? All just for long sleeves? Crazy even for me.

Rock the Red baby!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Flip Cup Revival

Since graduating college, one doesn't play nearly as many drinking games. Me especially. It got to the point where any card drinking game sounds horrible to me. I don't need an excuse to drink. I just drink. (Yes I know spoken like a true alcoholic) But in some drinking games, drinking isn't a punishment, but just part of the game. A reward if you will. I have come a long way since the early days of the young Manatee not enjoying the taste of beer. I remember in 5th grade when I had my first beer how horrible I thought it was. "Why would anyone drink this?! It tastes like bad soda!" How naive I was. I like to drink beer. The taste, its quite quenching.

So what games do I find acceptable nowadays to play while drinking? Unless you're at a bar and are playing shuffleboard, pool, or darts, really not a whole lot. Put simply, it was only beer pong. A game of half skill, half luck, half drunkenness. (It's a big game) You get to cheer, you get to feel pressure, you get to feel excitement, you get to feel defeat. Everything you would want in a game. This was the only game I was ever interested in playing after college....until 2 days ago. Apparently it was a big part of UVA Law to play flip cup all the time...and when I say all the time, I mean every party. Maybe flip cup to law schoolers is what beer pong is to most people. I had one instance of playing flip cup in July '06. It was not pretty. No one told me not to fill my cup as high as I was, and about 12 quick games in, I remember nothing. I got so bad that I went to breakfast the next day, drove both Tiffany and Courtney to downtown in C'ville. Came home. Went to go to dinner that night and had no recollection of going to breakfast in the same area.

Rick: "Where do I go? Where is this restaurant?"
Tiffany: "Just go to where we had breakfast. You can park where we did then."
Rick: "Breakfast? What the shit are you talking about?"
Courtney: "This morning...when you drove us to breakfast."
Rick: "Is it bad I have no recollection of this? Did we really go to breakfast??"
Tiffany: "Rick. You drove."
Rick: "That's not good..."

That gives you an idea as to what happened. So, clearly, I couldn't really evaluate how fun flip cup is. I barely remember stuff from the morning AFTER, let alone the night OF drinking.

Mere's birthday brought about a lot of good times, but lets be honest, the invitee that brought a CASE of Hurricane's really got the party started for me. Really? did anyone know you could buy a case of Hurricane's? Flip cup commenced. The same pros that make Beer Pong so awesome are present for flip cup, but the team is larger, and the atmosphere is electric. I got so excited winning one time that I almost punched out the ceiling light when i jumped up and down for joy.

Round 2.

Opening day of baseball. One of the best days of the year. First time to start grilling and not feel strange about it. Pong table in the backyard. Guys vs. Girls. Flip cup all day. I think everyone would agree that it was a great way to spend a Sunday. Ridiculously fun. Best part of the day? Tough call, but when I say tough, I mean there is a clear winner. Jon drank his beer early, everyone screamed at him, he spit it back in the cup, then when everyone yelled at him to go, he drank it again. Amazing. And let's not forget there was one of Jon's infamous rants. I live to be present for those.

From this point going forward, I will force others to play this game at parties. or boring afternoons. Whatever the case. Let's flip.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


No, not the movie as everyone probably thinks...I went bowling tonight for the first time in months, maybe even years. Once upon a time when I lived quite close to the fairfax circle bowling alley, we used to go quite often. Yes I may fit the bill because I'm fat and white, but only partially (White that is). I forgot how much I loved this game. Everyone gets excited. Its not really a sport, but more of a leisurely activity which I'm king of...(aka. Darts, Bocce, Golf) I went with two of my good friends Que and Raf and I'm not going to lie, I took all of their money.

The thing I think I like about Bowling so much is that 300 will pretty much always be elusive to me. In basketball you can hit 3s, even half court shots. Baseball, you can probably hit a homerun (at least in softball I have). But to bowl a 300? I could easily go my entire life without doing that, so you'll always try and perfect your game. Just like golf. Shooting par for the average golfer is probably unattainable. But it doesn't stop us poor schmucks from trying.

You all know me pretty well, I own pretty much any random sports equipment possible. I own skis (I don't go that often). I own a pool cue (I rarely use it out of fear of people making fun of me cause I'm not very good at pool). I own a bocce set. I own EVERYTHING. Does it shock anyone to know that I own my own bowling ball? My own bowling shoes? Probably not. Does it shock everyone that tonight I probably averaged a 160 and even bowled a 223? probably yes. It's probably also not shocking to everyone that my arm and leg will probably be sore from it. Embarrassing? perhaps? Am I ashamed? No. I think I bowled 7 games tonight. Let's see you do that...

I hope we can get more people to go bowling because I think it gets a bad rap. In the words of Bowl America... "It's fun for the whole family!"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

St. Lucia - Day Five

So I've been in the pool for approximately 7 hours. I needed to get out so my skin didn't prune too much. This trip has been one of the best I've ever had. I can't wait to go somewhere tropical again. Hopefully this upcoming winter. Maybe destination Birthday? Is that asking too much? I think not.

I'll post pictures in a little bit, but the drunk jenga pictures coupled with the picture of Robby and myself on an inflatable dolphin....priceless.

Let's make a mastercard commercial.

More to come...

Monday, March 23, 2009

St. Lucia - Day One

I'm sure most of you are going to ask what the fuck I am doing online while I'm on my tropical vacation and all I can say is. Shut up. Day One was amazing. Not amazing in the exploring, wow, beautiful island type of way. But amazing in the holy shit I can't believe all these things happened kind of way. Obviously these posts aren't going to be long and/or in depth, so I'll just give you the cliff notes version.

9 hours of traveling. Plane from Miami to San Juan included no other than Richard Jenkins (yes the dad from Step Brothers who was recently nominated for Best actor in The Visitor) and Aaron Eckhart. (Yes, Two-Face). I thanked him for smoking.

We get to St. Lucia after 9 hours of traveling. Within 20 min of getting to the hotel, we are starving, but apparently the island is pretty much closed because its 11 pm. We walk to one of the only places open that have karaoke. I am wearing a Guinness shirt. An islander walks up to me within 30 seconds of getting to the bar. "Ey mon. I like ur shirt!". He then proceeds to show me his Guinness he is drinking. He then asks me what I'm into, referring to what drugs I need cause he's the man of the island. Yes I was offered drugs within an hour of arriving in St. Lucia. Best part? He introduced himself as Pablo Escobar. Theh brightside, other than the drugs, was that he showed us where to get food. It was literally the only place left open. We all look at the food and have no clue what anything is. We ask the woman to just give us whatever she wants. We walk home and eat in the hotel. The pork is delicious. Fatty, seems like knuckles. I then start to pay closer attention to what I'm eating. There is no way this is pork. God only knows what we ate. I lose my appetite. Begin drinking immediately. Our 7 bottles purchased at the Duty-Free shop will benefit us all. We drink and go into the hot tub until 3 am.

Rinse. Repeat.

More on Day 2 upcoming.