Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or Peep!

In honor of Halloween, I thought I'd show what's available from the wonderful Peeps people for Halloween. I don't know about the "Spooky Friends" thing, but I love the pumpkins, and the ghosts are cool. The cats, well, I don't know, but they're cocoa flavored, and having had the cocoa flavored bunnies at Easter, I'm definitely a fan.

I'm not sure that I'm getting any for Halloween, though, since I still have a ton of peeps left from Easter. Yes, I mean from this April, six months ago. Yeah, like the Peeps are going to go bad or something.

Maybe I'll get some at Christmas time. I can't remember if they have Thanksgiving ones. It's not included on the holiday list on the Peeps site, so I'm thinking not. However, something in a picture did intrigue me:

What's the little gingerbread cookie Peep on the left? Is that the thing they say is available at Christmas as something like a "cutout"? Hmmm, I may have to investigate come Christmas time. And I so don't remember the blue bunny Peep.

Happy Halloween! Have fun hanging with your Peeps!

Here's the Peeps page on the parent company's (Just Born, Inc.) website.

And here's the official Peeps website.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Is Joe Torre going to bleed Dodger Blue?

OK, so the Yankees are following what they normally do and blaming their manager for what their players aren't doing, and anything short of winning the World Series is complete and utter, unforgiveable failure. So, rather than having the balls to actually fire Joe Torre, they give him a half-ass insulting offer that's designed for him to turn down so they can pretend to take the high road and say that he walked away, not that they fired him. OK, whatever.

And the Dodgers have Grady Little as manager, who has been embattled for some time now. I don't follow the Dodgers as much as I used to, but even I've heard the grumblings from various places about all the bad decisions that Little has made, and the speculation of whether the Dodgers would fire him at any given time. Well, Little resigned tonight. How much of it was voluntary and how much of it was "we'll let you resign to save face instead of firing you, but if you don't resign, we will fire you"? Who knows.

And now, I hear that there's talk that not only are the Dodgers considering hiring Joe Torre, but that they've already talked and a deal has already been made, and they're just waiting a respectable amount of time to formally announce it. So the Dodgers' new manager is going to come here fresh off 12 years with the hated Yankees? Wow! Of course, I still don't really associate Torre with the Yankees. I'm still remembering him from his days managing the Atlanta Braves in the early 80s, when I was really into baseball. Yeah, I know, serious time warp there.

Well, I did forgive Dusty Baker for being the manager of the other hated Giants, so who knows.

But I can't even begin to entertain the thought of Alex Rodriguez being a Dodger.

[cue exploding head]

Monday, October 29, 2007

I am so much more important than you

I'm active on a number of discussion forums, and I lurk on a bunch of others. There will often be discussions where a lot of people weigh in on a particular topic. As one might expect, different people join the discussion at different times depending on their availability, when they have a chance to read the topic, etc. Sometimes, conversation can go very quickly, so the thread can have a lot of responses in a short period of time. Now, I can certainly understand that reading through a whole bunch of responses takes a while. My solution tends to be to wait until I have a chance to read through all the responses to see if there's anything I want to add to the discussion. On occasion, I'll see one particular response that gets my attention, and I'll just respond to that one issue, or on a rare occasion, I will post a response without having read the rest of the thread.

That apparently is not how lots of other people seem to work. On so many occasions, people seem to feel the need to announce that they haven't read any of the other responses, but here's what they think. To me, that's basically announcing with a bullhorn that you can't be bothered with what anyone else has to say, and you can't bother to spend the time to actually read through a thread before participating in it, but what you have to say is just so incredibly important that it's vital you post it now, so that others can share in the wisdom of your words. Maybe it's not always meant to convey that, but it's what I get. I really don't understand the reason for announcing that you've ignored everything everyone else has to say. If you're going to join in a conversation, shouldn't you be courteous enough to know what's been going on in the conversation? Some people seem to announce that they haven't read anything else as a way to thwart those who might point out that what they've said has already been said. Well, if it's a factual point, then it's really stupid for someone to answer when they don't know if it's already been answered, and I do think it's stupid when someone asks a factual question, and 3 or more people post a response. Ummm, unless the previous responses were wrong or incomplete, there's really no need to answer again. If it's a matter of opinion, then I'm not sure it matters that they're expressing the same opinion that's already been expressed. Everyone is entitled to post an opinion. If only one post per stance is allowed, there wouldn't be much discussion, would there? Different people might share the same opinion, but their expression of that opinion is undoubtedly different.

I have started to call out people who do the "I'm not reading what y'all wrote" declaration. On occasion, people have come back with the response that the thread is billions of pages long, and they don't have time to read all that, and how could I possibly expect them to? When a thread has reached that kind of length, the conversation has run quite a course and probably had a number of tangents as well. They're now posting a response to the original post, so they're basically trying to re-start the entire conversation. They're entitled to still post their opinion, but if the conversation has mostly run its course, I would expect their response to take that into account. On a few occasions, there have been ambiguous parts to the original post, which get clarified as conversation progresses and it turns out the original post wasn't worded correctly. And then someone brand new comes in and calls out those ambiguities - without any consideration or knowledge that those points have already been clarified. And yes, I *do* think you should at least skim the entire conversation before participating. There are times I've done that and found lots of points I would personally address - to find that others have already thoroughly addressed those points, and there's really nothing else I can possibly add to the conversation without simply repeating what they've said. In that case, there's really nothing for me to say. I don't need to post something just for the sake of posting it. But, then I'm not as important as some people.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Knott's Berry Farm - not the way to do things

Having lived in Southern California for most of my life, I'm definitely no stranger to amusement parks. As an adult, I've had an annual pass to almost all of the amusement parks in the Southern California area at one time or another, with the exception of Magic Mountain. I've had a pass to Knott's for several years now. We hadn't gone in a while, and we then organized a trip to go with some friends. We decided that we liked it enough, and that the annual pass was inexpensive enough that it was worth getting to be able to visit periodically. The husband and I both got the single park pass (instead of the ones that include admission to the water park, locally and elsewhere), and since we didn't figure we both needed parking and he'd be more likely to go without me than the other way around, we only bought parking for him.

Most of the reason for me wanting the pass was Ghostrider. I'm not a huge coaster enthusiast, but I do like some of them. Ghostrider was such a terrific ride, with its length, the fact that it crossed over the street, and all the wonderful drops - I had a great time, and the prospect of being able to ride it on a regular basis definitely made having a pass worth it.

And then things changed. Because of various issues, I am often unable to handle riding even tame coasters, so some of the more adventurous ones at Knott's was out of the question. And even Ghostrider became unavailable to me. About a year or two ago, as I was on the ride, it was shortly after launch that I noticed how incredibly rough the ride had gotten. It didn't just jerk you around - it bounced you painfully. I spent most of the ride trying to adjust myself into positions that would cause me the least amount of pain. No fun at all. Since then, I've thought about attempting it again, thinking maybe it was just a temp thing. The husband knows my difficulties in riding some coasters, and while he can tolerate what Ghostrider now does, he cautioned that it hadn't changed from my last ride and would be equally as painful for me. So, I can no longer ride my favorite ride in the park, the one that was the main reason for me getting a pass in the first place.

Knott's is also not one of those places where you can really just hang around, enjoy the atmosphere and people-watch. It's mostly about rides - and without rides, there's not much else. On one occasion, I decided to throw caution to the wind and live with the consequences - I went on both Xcelerator and Silver Bullet on the same day. I tried Xcelerator first. Most of the coaster didn't seem that big a deal - it was really just the one up and down that I knew was going to bother me. I'm not into vertical climbs or drops - and this ride has both in succession. So I was nervous. The up wasn't nearly as bad - I think the worst part was the anticipation of the down. The down was pretty bad. I like drops on coasters, but vertical drops not so much. I managed to make it through that part so that I could enjoy the rest of it - and as the husband and a friend had told me, the rest was just really boring.

Silver Bullet, on the other hand, was a much more fun ride. It reminded me a lot of the Batman ride at Magic Mountain as far as loops and upside down parts and all that. I had a great time - but doing both rides in the same day really overtaxed my system, so it took a bit of rest to recover from that. They are rides I can definitely only do on really good days, and even then, that's if I want to pay the consequence of feeling like crap for at least a little while thereafter. Xcelerator probably wouldn't require as much recovery time, but it's not as fun a ride. Silver Bullet is a much more fun ride and more worth it - but also, the price to be paid is much higher in terms of recovery.

We enjoy going to the restaurant in Ghost Town, but it's not spectacular enough to be worth having a pass for. We don't generally do the water rides. I like the sky tower ok and tend to go on that every visit, but again, not enough to justify having a pass. We rarely spend a full day there - it's usually a couple hours at most and that includes having lunch. A new coaster called Sidewinder opened a couple months ago, and I wasn't sure I could handle it, so the husband went on when we were there previously. He said he didn't think it would be a problem for me, so I thought I might try it on a future visit.

My current pass expires on October 31, and I've decided that it's not worth it to renew for me. The husband will still be renewing since he can still get enough use out of it to make it worthwhile. I wanted to make one last visit before my pass expired, so we stopped by today. I knew I wasn't going to be able to handle Sidewinder today, so I wouldn't be able to go on it at all, but that was ok with me.

Parking worked out fine today, with the entire main parking lot open. A Halloween Haunt event was planned for the evening, so I expect that was the reason for it. One of the things that Knott's does on occasion that infuriates me is that it rents out its main parking lot to outside vendors, usually car shows and other things like that. So on the off-season, when you'd figure parking is a breeze, there's no convenient parking. Most of the main lot is roped off for this third party, and sometimes, even the closer secondary lots are closed. So, you've paid for parking already as an annual passholder, but you have to park at a lot that's blocks away, with no transportation other than your own two feet to get to the main gate. What an insulting way to treat your customers!

Instead of our normal restaurant, the husband decided today that he wanted to see if the barbeque place was open, which it was, so we ate there. The choices were a bit limited, but I opted for the 1/4 chicken and pork ribs. As I got my tray and was standing there waiting for my food, I couldn't help but lament the now non-existence of Disneyland's Big Thunder BBQ. As I looked over at the grill, I was surprised to see whole corn on the cob sitting on the grill. It's available at a nearby location, but I hadn't seen it on the menu of the restaurant at all, and I would have preferred to have the corn rather than the baked potato that came with my lunch. I had thought about mentioning it to the person preparing my plate, but she first gave me the wrong order, and then when she fixed it and then gave me my correct order, it was clear that she had no interest in speaking to me at all.

We found a seat at a nearby table to enjoy our lunch. It was actually quite tasty. Both the pork ribs and chicken were very moist and tender, and the flavoring was quite good, with not too much sauce - I tend to dislike bbq that's heavy on sauce. The husband had gotten the beef ribs, and he enjoyed his lunch as well, though there was more sauce than he liked, so he scraped some off, and his order was such a large portion that he didn't finish all his ribs. The seating for the restaurant is outdoors, pretty much in the middle of other stuff. There were various street shows that were happening around us, which wasn't too bad, except for the periodic and frequent shooting of loud guns. The seating is also right next to a shop that has lots of toys, so kids were playing with the pop guns incessantly. Not a particularly quiet or peaceful meal.

After lunch, we wandered off to Camp Snoopy, which is turned into Camp Spooky for kids at this time. Young kids could trick or treat at various stations. We wandered around and looked at a few things. I did notice that they decided Camp Spooky was a great place to put out quite a number of large, fuzzy, dark-colored fake spiders. They were all over the place. I'm not afraid of spiders, but I have friends who are, and even I was creeped out by some of them. I can't imagine what their reactions would be. I was really just happy that snakes, which I am seriously afraid of, aren't attached to any particular holiday or occasion and that people don't generally feel the need to put up huge fake snakes everywhere.

We then headed over for a ride on the skyway, which was nice. We also watched people ride Perilous Plunge, which reminds me of Tidal Wave at Magic Mountain. It's an extremely short ride, with no purpose other than to get you completely wet.

We looked around in various shops and saw some interesting/cute merchandise. I saw one t-shirt which I really liked. It had the Peanuts characters (who mostly populate Camp Snoopy, unsurprisingly) in Coaster Class 101 with a list of coasters at Knott's. However, I was surprised that both Perilous Plunge and Supreme Scream were both on that list. Umm, Perilous Plunge can't begin to be called a coaster and calling Supreme Scream a coaster is just flat-out wrong. Points for the idea, but minus points for the execution.

It was a fairly warm day out, and there wasn't really much else to do, so we headed out. Including lunch, we probably spent a total of about 3 hours there. It was a relatively uncrowded day, but with so many rides that I couldn't go on, and really nowhere to just hang out and enjoy the atmosphere, there seemed no point in staying.

One of the other things that I notice about Knott's and other non-Disney amusement parks is the demeanor of the employees. Many employees at Knott's that we came across were either uninterested or disinterested or outright bored. We were surprised as we were getting up from lunch that two costumed employees were sitting at a nearby table on a break. One of them even yelled over quite loudly to another employee walking by who hadn't noticed her. You would never see that kind of thing at a Disney park, and if you did, it would be quite shocking. One of the things that Disney impresses upon its employees is their interaction with customers and park visitors. They may not be as happy as they pretend to be - but they pretend to be, and they do it well, and that's part of your job. We stopped by Disneyland for a couple hours after leaving Knott's, and the difference in the attitude of the employees is remarkable. It's one of the many reasons why Disney is so extremely superior when it comes to running an amusement park. And it's one of the many reasons why I had decided not to renew my Knott's pass.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Civics 101

There's a show on TV called "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?" I think the show title is misleading because it's not a matter of whether you're smarter, it's a matter of whether you've retained as much information currently. If you were in a class actively learning something or are maybe a year out from that, you'd be expected to remember more than someone who learned it umpteen years ago who hasn't had to use that knowledge in many, many years.

That being said, there are some concepts that people should retain because they're bigger concepts or things that are relevant in everyday life. You might not remember the dates of the Civil War or even the names of all the relevant people, but you should certainly know what the Civil War was about or that there even *was* a Civil War.

Since so many people apparently don't know/understand basic concepts, I'm going to give a civics lesson today, lack of a teaching credential notwithstanding.

Electoral College

Our voting system for president of the United States is not based on counting every single person who is eligible to vote who actually votes. It's based on the concept of the electoral college. Each state and the District of Columbia each have a set number of electoral votes, based on how many reps and senators each state sends to Congress. The least number of electoral votes a state has would be 3. Most states follow a "winner take all" rule, which means that whoever gets the most votes in that state ("popular vote") gets all of the electoral votes, no matter the margin of victory. In some states, electoral votes can be divided among two or more candidates, depending on the outcome of the popular vote. A candidate for president wins an election by winning a majority of the electoral votes. Here's a website that has a good explanation of the whole electoral college process.

So for all the people who insistently claim that Bush "stole" the election from Gore, please go back and read and understand the electoral college. "But Gore got more votes so he was the true winner." Ummm, no, thanks for playing, but you fail the civics course. From the website mentioned above: "Under the Federal system adopted in the U.S. Constitution, the nation-wide popular vote has no legal significance. As a result, it is possible that the electoral votes awarded on the basis of State elections could produce a different result than the nation-wide popular vote." Here's another important note: "How is it possible for the electoral vote to produce a different result than the nation-wide popular vote? It is important to remember that the President is not chosen by a nation-wide popular vote. The electoral vote totals determine the winner, not the statistical plurality or majority a candidate may have in the nation-wide vote totals. Electoral votes are awarded on the basis of the popular vote in each State."

I'm really amazed by the number of people who have no understanding of the electoral college, especially some people who purport to be educated members of society interested and invested in our political system.

Double Jeopardy

Most people seem to understand that the same person cannot be tried twice for the same crime. But they don't seem to understand that it means the same court under the same jurisdiction. If someone commits a crime that breaks state and federal laws, they could be tried in both a state court and a federal court for the same crime because they are technically being tried for two different crimes - one that breaks a state law and one that breaks a federal law. And then there's the civil court. Double jeopardy only applies to governmental prosecution. In civil cases, there is no prosecution - the person is being sued for monetary damages. There is no prosecutor - there is a plaintiff. So for all the people who insist that the monetary judgement against O.J. Simpson is wrong because he was acquitted and so therefore can't be tried twice for the same crime - no, thanks for playing, but you also fail the civics course. I've heard when this distinction between the two kinds of trials has been explained to someone, and their response is to say they don't really understand it - all they know is that you can't be tried for the same thing twice. OK, you're either just really stupid or you're deliberately refusing to acknowledge that your position is stupid. If you can't understand the difference between a criminal court proceeding and a civil court proceeding, then as far as I'm concerned, you're not allowed to have an opinion since you can't retain or comprehend the relevant facts.

First Amendment Rights

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Here's a website which has the U.S. Constitution online. So people seem to focus on the "freedom of speech" portion of the amendment and then extrapolate that to mean that everyone can say anything they want at any time. Most people understand that it doesn't allow you to yell "fire" in a crowded room when there is no such fire, so you can't endanger lives that way, but short of that, you can say anything you want, wherever you want, and no one can stop you. Right? WRONG!

The First Amendment applies to what the government can do and what laws they can enact. It has no jurisdiction over individuals or private property. If someone is in my house and says something I object to, I certainly have the right to tell that person to stop saying what they're saying and/or asking/making that person leave my home. Similarly, someone does not have the right to demand to come into my home and be able to spout things that I personally find objectionable or offensive.

So, for all the idiots on the various private discussion boards that I'm on who object when they break the established and set community rules and are then called on it, reprimanded for it and made to suffer the consequences for it, who then turn around and scream that your First Amendment free speech rights are being stomped into the ground - you're complete idiots. Have you not figured out that the First Amendment only applies to government and laws? Have you not figured out that none of those discussion boards are run by the government? Have you not figured out that all of those discussion boards are private enterprises owned and run by private citizens and would be the equivalent of their business or home, which you do not have the right to invade and run amok in without interference? As far as I'm concerned, screaming about having your free speech rights impinged upon in a situation like that is just as idiotic as anyone invoking Godwin's Law. In this case, "shut up and sit down" is an entirely appropriate response.

Class dismissed.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Nizam of India - an Indian restaurant in West L.A.

I was introduced to Indian food for the first time in the 90s. I was about to make a trip to London, and while I was going with a tour group, I had a budget I needed to keep within, and I was told that fairly inexpensive Indian restaurants were easy to find in London. But I'd never had Indian food before and so wouldn't have a clue what to order or what I'd like. My boss at the time took me to a really nice Indian restaurant called Gaylord. He knew that they had a lunch buffet and thought that would be a good way for me to try a variety of different dishes. Two other people came along to lunch as well, and all three of them were telling me various things about Indian dishes. I discovered that I really enjoyed Indian food, so I was well armed with that knowledge. As it was, I don't think I ended up having any Indian food on my travels to England during that trip.

Later on, I was hanging out with a particular friend on a regular basis, and she had a little Indian place that she liked, so we'd go there for dinner on occasion. I mostly had tandoori chicken or some kind of curry, but those are fairly limiting dishes.

And then, I was driving around a couple years ago at lunch time and saw Nizam of India and decided to try it. Definitely a good choice. They offer a lunch buffet for $7.95. It's a good deal, and the food is very good. Lunch comes with two pieces of tandoori chicken, but I generally ask them to hold that now since I much prefer the chicken dishes offered in the buffet, and I wasn't even touching the tandoori chicken so it seemed a shame for it to go to waste. Also included is a good serving of nan (Indian bread of superfine flour cooked in the tandoor).

The buffet itself comes with a number of different choices. There's also some kind of soup. Sometimes, it's a tomato soup, with little bits of stuff and spices. It's really delicious. But my favorite though is Mulligatawny (a traditional soup made with lentils, spices and chicken stock, subtly flavored with delicate herbs). It just has so much flavor and is a very satisfying soup. Even when it's warm outside, it's usually nicely cool inside with the air conditioning, so the warm soup is very nice. On occasion, they will also have samosa (crisp patties stuffed with spiced potatoes and green peas). I've tried them, and I think they're ok, but I generally pass now because there are other things on the buffet I'd rather have.

There are usually two kinds of salads offered. One is a regular green salad. The other is made up of sliced cucumber and tomatoes, is a kind of light vinaigrette. I particularly enjoy that. There are also a couple raw vegetables (a la crudite).

The buffet always includes basmati rice, which I also quite enjoy. I usually put some chicken and sauce on the rice. There are usually two or three vegetable dishes as well. Sometimes, there's cauliflower with potatoes and onions, or spinach cooked with cream, or cooked eggplant that's kind of been mashed (this one is my favorite), and today, they had garbanzo beans, which I hadn't seen them have before.

There are also usually two chicken dishes. Sometimes it's Chicken Tikka Makhani (tender pieces of chicken cooked in the tandoor and submerged in a tomato and cream sauce enriched with green spices) or Chicken Tikka Masala (bonesless pieces of chicken broiled in the tandoor and then cooked in chef's special sauce) or Chicken Vindaloo (chicken cooked in curry sauce, garnished with pickled onions and potatoes) or one of the other chicken dishes on the menu.

Dessert items usually include watermelon and a few other kinds of melon as well as what I think is gulab jamun (a Northern Indian dessert made from flour and milk, served in a honey syrup).

For someone who's vegetarian, the buffet might not be a good choice, unless you're ok with the vegetarian offerings there. But there's also a regular menu that anyone can order from.

Service is always good, attentive and pleasant. Parking can sometimes be a problem. You can look for spaces out front on Pico or in nearby paid parking lots. They purport to have a parking lot behind the restaurant, but I've never parked there.

I've only gone there once for dinner. Dinner is a much more difficult proposition because I have to pick one item that I want. This is a place where dinner with a few people is better since you can order multiple dishes and share.

Nizam of India
10871 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(across from Westside Pavilion, opposite Barnes and Noble)

lunch buffet is served from 11:30am to 2:45pm daily

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Who am I?

OK, so I took a few of the quizzes at

What's Your Jedi Name?

Find out what your Jedi name is at!

This one makes sense. When I want to do something, I can be pretty determined. And then there are other times that I'd rather just lie on the couch. And one of the designations I had chosen for myself previously is Jedi-in-Training, so I'm good with this. Except that I *hate* the name.

Which Pixar Character Are You?

Find out what Pixar character you are at!

This one's a little more iffy. There are very few occasions when I could ever be called a doormat. But Mike is funny, and I like him. Maybe it thinks I'm Mike because I said that I'd pick having dinner at Harryhausen's.

Which "Heroes" Character Are You?

Find out what Heroes character you are at!

At first, I was surprised, but after a little bit of thought, Niki actually makes total sense. I generally try to be a nice person, but sometimes, when things happen and the situation calls for it, I just react, and I can't help myself. Hello, Jessica!

How Totally 80s Are You?

Find out how totally 80's you are at!

Hey, I'm a child of the 80s - I had to take the test! I'm thinking it gave me that rating because I kept picking answers related to "WarGames"...

There were a bunch of other ones on the site, but I generally didn't find them that interesting. I will say that I did take the "how much of a nerd are you" quiz, but I didn't really care for the presentation. I got "mere dork", which is pretty much dead on, though I prefer and have used the label "wannabe geek" to describe myself.

Did I mention I love "WarGames"?

Monday, October 22, 2007

"The funny thing about firemen is... night and day, they are always firemen." - Backdraft

And in Southern California, the firemen have *been* firemen literally night and day. It would seem that half of Southern California is currently on fire, from San Diego to Malibu and beyond. There are about 14 or so fires going on simultaneously, in various stages of flame-up, and the fires have been going on since early Sunday morning. First, there was the fire in Malibu that destroyed a humongous castle mansion and a local church. And then there were fires in the Orange County area. And a new fire erupted Sunday night in Ontario. And fires in San Diego. And yet another fire erupted in Lake Arrowhead. And numerous other fires have erupted all over. Some are thought to be caused by downed power lines caused by high winds. There is also some speculation that some fires have been caused by people, whether accidentally or deliberately.

It's been reported that over 100 homes have been burned in Lake Arrowhead. Many other homes have been destroyed or are still threatened all over Southern California. The high winds not only fan the flames, but they also deter the efforts of firefighters. With the high winds, air drops of water and other substances are either rendered useless (as loads are blown off course or water is dissipated before it ever actually hits the fire) or made impossible when planes are grounded for safety reasons. The winds are expected to die down on Wednesday. But Wednesday is a long time away.

There have also been reports that already-overwhelmed firefighters are spending time not actually fighting the fire but evacuating people who have refused to leave, even when specifically told to do so. I can't imagine what one must feel to leave your home with most of your belongings and not knowing if it will still be there when you return. And maybe 1 in however many people who refuse to leave actually help the firefighters in some fashion. But in most cases, it's just another hindrance to the firefighting effort. Some cities were bringing in police to help with the evacuation efforts to alleviate the burden from the firefighters, but those who have to be forced to leave their homes are not only endangering others' property, but they're also endangering lives.

Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, which is home to the Chargers, has become a shelter for many who have been evacuated. Requests for assistance have been sent out to Northern California and neighboring states, who are sending firefighters and other assistance personnel.

I remember watching the Malibu fires in the early 90s. I had the TV on all night, and I would nap and then wake periodically to see the flames on the screen. Watching the fires did nothing to help the problem, but for some reason, I couldn't help it. I found myself in a similiar situation on Sunday morning. Not having heard anything previously, I turned on the TV - and the flames lit up the screen. And I watched for hours. As horrible as it was to see, I had to watch, hoping I'd see the flames lessen and hear the reports that the fires were being contained. But instead, there were more and more reports of fires.

We live in such a technically-advanced time. And yet, there's nothing we can do to stop a fire of any magnitude. We can send people into space and to other planets, we can fit mega-computers into the tiniest of compartments, we can even simulate a human heart. But every once in a while, Mother Nature has to show us that we are at her mercy - that we are helpless in the face of devastating earthquakes, wind, water and fire. I remember seeing a picture in the paper of the Malibu fires, with flames hundreds of feet tall - and one lone fireman with a hose. He might as well be trying to put it out with a squirtgun.

Thank God that we are not personally threatened by any of the fires, but there are relatives, friends, friends of friends, and relatives of friends who have either been evacuated or whose homes are still threatened. I pray that they will stay safe. I also pray for the safety of those I don't know whose homes are still threatened. And I pray for those who have lost their homes and those who might still lose their homes. I pray for the safety of the firefighters and other personnel who are all in their way helping in this entire effort. And I hope that those who deliberately set any fires will burn in a fiery hell, the same as what they've created.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

television round-up - "The Big Bang Theory", "Survivor", "Kitchen Nightmares", "Back To You" and "Law and Order"

"The Big Bang Theory"

Last week's episode - I thought the game at the beginning was a little forced, but it sure brought back memories of playing adventure games in college. I remember playing some D&D-type adventure game in college with someone, and we had gotten pretty far. We had a group of decently-leveled players, lots of spells, weapons, etc. I wanted to quit for the night. He wanted to try one more level, and he talked me into it. I didn't want to go into the room. He did. We went into the room. And we were ambushed. We were seriously out-matched, and they got first shot at us. Whack, zing, bwap. Killed half our team on their first go-round, half of the rest of the team went running away and were lost and one or two players made it back up top alive, but severely bruised and depleted. End of game.

I loved that they brought Asimov's 3 laws of robotics into the show, and they even recited two of them! I was laughing so hard.

I want a hypo-allergenic calico. Not because of me, since I'm not allergic to cats, but I love calicos, and if I had a hyper allergenic one, a friend who's allergic to cats wouldn't have as hard a time when she comes over.

I want to know why Penny knows the term "centrifugal force". ;)

This week's episode - "I love buffets." "Don't they have buffets in India?" "Yeah, but it's all Indian food." :)

I loved the shopping trip to the grocery store, and all of Sheldon's comments and *especially* Penny's reactions. "You're just making really expensive urine." "What if that was what I was going for?" And Sheldon with all his little bits of information. And then their tampon discussion outside Penny's door about buying 30 years worth? Too funny.

Sheldon looked really funny wearing the poncho (not sarape) in the entire scene. And the loom was a funny thing that reminded me of a joke among a few of my friends. All they needed was a Xena-wannabee...

I loved the dynamic of Sheldon being the uber-scientist with his ultra-conservative religious mother. Laurie Metcalfe was awesome! "I've got two other kids who are dumb as soup." Her delivery of the question to Mr. I-don't-speak-to-girls about whether chicken was considered one of those magic animals had us busting up. And the whole exchange in Sheldon's boss's office, including the exchange between her and the boss was terrific. Hopefully, they'll bring her back periodically.

When Sheldon's mom was finishing up with the prayer, she seemed to also be directing the comment to Mr. Spock. I don't remember him having a particular religious bent. Is he supposed to be Jewish? That's the only thing I could think of that would make her including him on the comment make sense.

Loved the glow-in-the-dark fish at the end!

"Survivor" - Last week's show was kinda non-descript for me. Glad that Dave got kicked out because he's just annoying. Interesting, though, that it means two of the three people who have gotten kidnapped have then been immediately voted out. As for this week's episode, not really sure P.G.'s and Jaime's strategy to throw the challenges so they can vote off Aaron and James is going to work. (And if they were going to do it, you think they could have been a little more subtle about it?) The last tribe that threw a challenge to kick someone off paid for it dearly. In this case, they have to throw *two* immunity challenges. And since they voted off Aaron and kept James, he's going to be fit to be tied back at camp. I don't expect he'll be working hard to get water and other stuff now that he knows their strategy. Wonder if he'll somehow be able to convey it to the other tribe. Next week - scary Chinese food challenge! :)

"Kitchen Nightmares" - Really enjoyed this week's episode. It was cool that Gordon liked the building to begin with, but it was a bit odd that they only had a little sign that you could completely miss. Gordon really did have a challenge with Dean, the owner. He was so much in denial that he wouldn't even listen to Gordon. And there was really no one else there who could say anything to him. He was more concerned about just getting food out rather than the quality of the food? Yeah, that's a good way to run a restaurant. And I thought his wife was pretty stupid for not wanting to know. He said there was no need to know. Ummm, yeah, well, she's your wife, so you don't think she should know that you're half a million dollars in debt and that y'all could lose your house? What you don't know *can* in fact hurt you, very much so. I loved the torching of the salad funnels. And who wraps shrimp cocktail in phyllo dough? I thought it was cool that Gordon explored the town, and the first thing I thought was "No more Italian dishes." And then he found the meat shop. It was nice to see Dean be able to make the transition, and the look on his face when he saw the name of the restaurant projected onto the wall at the end. Next week looks to be the first restaurant outside of New York.

"Back To You" - Another funny show. I loved the shots from all the different cameras, especially the overhead camera. And I've done the carpool thing before where you're stuck with someone you don't dislike but really have nothing to talk about with. However, if I'd been stuck with Marsh, I'd have rather walked home! And I'm gonna agree with Chuck. There are a lot of people I can think of where I'd rather be out having dinner my myself than be stuck having dinner with them. I don't think it's a matter of being rude. I just think it's a matter of wanting to spend my time with people I like and not with people I don't want to. But in a rare instance, I actually had figured out the end before they showed the guy come out in the bathrobe.

"Law and Order: SVU"

Last week's episode - This was the one with Melissa Joan Hart playing the teacher, and she claims that she was raped, but her student claims that she seduced him. It was a good job of going back and forth where you didn't know which one was telling the truth, really until you get to the revelation about her abortion and her husband's reaction. And then when you get to the rest of the story about the student, and he pleads, you figure it's over. But it's not. He then has the worst thing possible happen to him in jail, but then he ends up with a windfall while the raped teacher gets nothing, and then the very last line from the student's attacker - you pretty much knew it was coming, but it was chilling all the same that he's claiming the same affliction as the student, and maybe that will get *him* off.

This week's episode - The little girl who played the autistic daughter has got to be in the running for an Emmy next year. It's one of those roles where you have to get someone so young and so talented and yet who won't be traumatized by what you're asking her to do. (Think Kirsten Dunst in "Interview with a Vampire".) The misdirection with the Homeland Security stuff was cool (and Karen Hayes from "24" is now apparently working with them! ;) ), but the bit by bit information you get that they coax out of the daughter was incredible, especially with the voices she was doing. And the fact that she could describe the timber of the voices she heard. Great episode all around.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

He couldn't have been all that hungry

After seeing a show in Pasadena Friday night, a bunch of us ended up at Konrad's because they were open late. I've never been before, but it's a diner/Denny's/Coco's kind of place. Afterward, four of us stood in the parking lot chatting for a while. This was around 12:30/1:00am. While we were out there, a man came up on a bicycle and interrupted our conversation. He was saying something about being hungry and asking if we could spare any change. OK, the fact that he came zipping up on a pretty decent bike struck me as a bit odd. Maybe I'm just stereotyping, but I don't expect homeless people (and I'm going to go ahead and assume that only homeless people are wandering around begging for money) to have fairly nifty bicycles. One of the people in our group had a box of leftovers from our late night/early morning breakfast, so he offered it to the guy, opening the box to show him. The guy looked and asked what it was, and then when told, he said, nah, that's ok, you keep it. He made some comment about not being able to tell what it was. And then he proceeded to ask for money again. OK, it's not like he was being offered dog food or trash that was going to be thrown out. And it wasn't like it was half-chewed stuff or anything. Since it was in a take-out box, it's obviously food that's meant to be eaten. If he had really been that hungry, even if he couldn't tell what it was upon looking at it, you'd think that after hearing that it was regular food, he would have accepted the food and been thankful. I mean, after all, he's asking for money for food because he's hungry. If you're turning down actual food and still asking for money, how much am I going to believe you that you that you're just hungry and looking for a means to buy food? Ummm, not so much.

I know that people are homeless and don't have a means to eat, but I don't know that I believe this was one of those guys. If he wasn't, then shame on him for trying to scam people. If he was, then shame on him for turning down someone's nice gesture of actually offering food to someone claiming to be hungry.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ramenya - Japanese noodle shop in West L.A.

I love ramen, pretty much in all forms. I like bagged ramen, and I even like cup-a-noodles ramen (though they all have to be brands I like - all brands are definitely not created equal), but I especially like restaurant ramen because I just can't seem to get the same flavor at home.

Sawtelle Blvd. in West Los Angeles has a plethora of ramen restaurants, but there are also other locations nearby. Ramenya is one of them. It's located on Olympic Blvd., a couple blocks west of Sawtelle, past the big law firm buildings and just after the Frames 2000 store. It's just a tiny little place, so it's easy to miss. Even easier to miss is the even tinier parking lot just after the restaurant. There are maybe 10 spaces, and they're delegated to a couple different establishments, but once the other stores close, all 10 can be used by Ramenya patrons. But that's still only 10 spaces. I lucked out today by finding an open spot on Olympic just after the parking lot. But there have been other times when I've ended up going elsewhere because I've driven around and completely failed to find somewhere to legally park my car.

The restaurant itself is fairly small. There's a counter that seats 4 and that they generally use for single-person parties. There are a couple of 4-person tables and then the rest (meaning another maybe 8 or 10 tables) are 2-person tables. Did I mention the restaurant is really small? They have a pretty decent menu with lots of variations of ramen and rice to choose from. For dinner, I picked the chasu ramen, and I added seaweed and egg. It's a very generous serving of ramen, and with this dish, lots of pork, and it also comes with bean sprouts. The seaweed (which I love) was also plentiful, and the egg was hard-boiled then cut in half. The seaweed was an extra $1.00 and the egg was an extra $.50 - not bad. The chasu ramen is soy sauce based, which is what I prefer. While I love miso soup, I find miso-based ramen broth to be too heavy and creamy, whereas the soy sauce is tasty but much lighter and clear. The broth was very tasty indeed, and it was a great dinner all around.

The restaurant is usually quite busy, and there can often be a wait, but it's not usually too long a wait because of the quick turnover. They make and bring out dishes very quickly, which contributes to diners taking less time. The wait beings are all very friendly, and they're extremely busy the whole time. They also seem to do a brisk take-out business, with lots of calls coming in during the time I was there. That's one solution to the parking and table problems.

Other than cautions about the parking problem and the limited table space, this is a place I'd definitely recommend.

Japanese noodle shop
11555 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
open 11:30am - 9:30pm

Click here for their website.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wanna see my cat?

This is Orkid, who we adopted from a rescue organization early in 2003. She has recently developed a penchant for sitting on top of my monitor. Sometimes, she just sits there looking out at the room. Sometimes, she decides to stretch and then lazily leaves a paw or two draped over the side (you know, like boys pretending to stretch and yawn so they can put their arm around a girl's shoulder?), blocking my view of the monitor. She occasionally decides to chase my cursor or whatever else might be moving on the monitor. In any case, if this goes on too long and she doesn't listen to me telling her to stop, she gets squirted with water. Yeah, and it leaves residue on my monitor. I've already decided that when this monitor goes kablooey, I'm going to want a bigger one, and I'll probably get a flat-screen, so she won't be able to sit up there anymore.

She will also sometimes take the opportunity of having me sitting in front of the computer to climb on me. She's not a lap kitty - she's a chest kitty. I've tried to teach her to just be content sitting on my lap, because that way, I can still type and do whatever it is I'm doing on the computer. But because she climbs up on my chest and wants to sit there, she can't do it by herself - having the cat sliding off my chest is a bit weird - so I have to help hold her up with at least one arm, which is not particularly conducive to typing. She likes to have her paws over one of my shoulders, and sometimes, she'll even put her head down on my shoulder. She's so cute and sweet when she does that - how can I say no?

She also has this habit that when it gets late and she wants to go to bed, she will come pester me, mewing at me and climbing on me, pretty much to tell me it's time to go to bed. Now, on days when I'm home during the day, she has no problem napping pretty much all day long without any help, assistance, participation or presence from me, so I don't know why nighttime is different. Or why, after she's been napping all day, she's still so tired at night and wants to go to bed and wants me to go too. But then, there's that cute and sweet thing, not to mention her being persistent and being a PEST, so usually, I eventually end up giving in.

Wanna know more about her? Have a look here.

Night, Orkid.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

So you think this is a good selling point, huh?

I was in San Jose, California last week, and across the street from the hotel I was staying at was a specialty chocolate/fudge/candy store. This being the Halloween season, they decided to decorate in the spirit of the time. This decision manifested itself in the form of a humongoid plastic blowup spider that was against the wall above the door, almost as if it had climbed down from the roof and was heading for the front door. Now, when I say that it's humongoid, I'm not exaggerating. You know how some car dealerships put blowup creatures like pandas or Godzilla or whatever on top of one of their buildings? Yeah, kinda like that size. Now, since it was plastic, it wasn't hairy or anything, and I could maybe see using something like for a store that sells costumes or a pet store or a home improvement store or something else. But a store that sells candy and goodies? They think that people are going to see the big giant spider (it's hard to miss, so in that sense, it's an eye-catcher) and think, "Wow, look at that spider! We've got to go into that candy store!"

The worse example I've seen of something like this is from multiple years ago. Same time of year, and I went into Subway (a sandwich store, for those of you who don't know it) to get some dinner. They have a couple different kinds of bread baguettes that you can choose for your sandwich. On the samples that show you the different kinds of bread and what they look like, they had put small plastic spiders all over the bread. OK, so I've got friends who are terrified of spiders, and thankfully, I'm not one of them, so I didn't run screaming out of there. But, hello, we're talking FOOD here, people, and you think that having spiders all over them is supposed to be appealing and appetizing? And these weren't goofy spiders or anything like that - at a quick glance, they look like the real thing. Yeah, spiders crawling all over the bread - mmmm, I'm hungry, where's dinner?

Monday, October 15, 2007

And you put up with this why?

"She used to sneak alcohol into the food she made for me when I was pregnant with my DD [Dear Daughter] and then pretend she did not realize that alcohol was bad for a developing fetus. But that made no sense because when she was guessing that I was pregnant before we announced it, she said she figured as much as I was not having any wine at the wedding we were at, so she did know that alcohol is not good for a developing fetus after all."

This was posted by someone on a board that I read, about her mother-in-law. After something like this, how do you continue having a relationship with this person? How do you even continue contact? It's not an "oh, she made an honest mistake and didn't know better and she couldn't be more remorseful". No, she's a malicious bitch who is trying to harm and/or kill your baby, her grandchild! And you allow her to have the opportunity to continue having the chance to do it again? It doesn't matter who does such a thing, friends, family, whatever. Heck, someone who does that should no longer be considered friend or family, biology notwithstanding.

And if your mother did that to your wife and your baby-in-the-womb, do you also let it slide? What kind of explanation actually works for you where you forgive such a thing?

I'll admit that there's a lot that I don't put up with that others do, mostly because I'm just done, but this is one of those where I just don't get how you look the other way.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

My John Candy (or is that Steve Martin?) Adventure

It never occurred to me, but then my friend Robert called me while I was on my trip the past couple days, and he greeted me with "How's your John Candy movie?" It took me a second to realize what he meant. He had called me while I was on an Amtrak train from San Jose to Sacramento, the day after I had taken a plane flight from Ontario to San Jose, and he was going to be picking me up from the Sacramento Amtrak station. And the following day, I'd be flying from Sacramento back to Ontario. Oh, and I had also driven to the Ontario airport in my car. When I got home and told the husband about Robert's comment, he said that it was actually Steve Martin's adventure, but since I've never seen "Planes, Trains and Automobiles", I wouldn't know.

Not so much a jet-setting lifestyle, but the combination of different modes of transportation was interesting. I needed to get from San Jose to Sacramento, but I had no idea they didn't have direct flights, but instead, flights from San Jose to Sacramento had stopovers in places like Seattle ... and LAX. :| So how the heck was I going to get from San Jose to Sacramento, I had wondered? It was actually Robert who had suggested Amtrak. I've never ridden it before and had never even thought about it, but it seemed the best plan. The only other thing to worry about was probably having to take the Amtrak back to San Jose and flying home from there, but when I realized that Southwest doesn't care if you book one-way flights and fly into and out of different cities without charging extra, then it made sense to fly into San Jose and out of Sacramento.

More about my adventures in the next week.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Obsession (no, not the perfume)

Is it really considered obsessive if you see the same band 4 times in 5 days in 3 different cities?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

"Blade Runner - The Final Cut"

Oh my goodness. I love "Blade Runner", but seeing this digitally restored version was just incredible, and on the big screen no less! The first shots of the cityscape of Los Angeles were just stunning and breathtaking, and made all the better with Vangelis' majestic music overriding it. I haven't seen either of the two previous versions of the film in a while, so I couldn't identify what all the new footage is - I only caught two bits. Everything about the film is just gorgeous. It really was a landmark film of its time, and it's completely underappreciated in a lot of circles. The set design in itself is incredible. I tried to take in a lot of the backgrounds and other things rather than the main action. I forgot how good Edward James Olmos was in this film. You'd expect Harrison Ford to be good, but I forgot how much he got beat up in this. And with how amazingly good Sean Young is in this film, you'd have thought this film would have made her an incredible star. But, of course, with his quiet, steady, calm, commanding voice and demeanor, Rutger Hauer really does steal the show. It would be entirely cliche and predictable to say how powerful Roy Batty's final speech is and how gripping the final scene on the rooftops is in general. But there's a reason that both are so often cited and so recognizable. Being able to see this version of the film on the big screen is one of the kind of things that makes me live in Southern California.

It's playing at the new Landmark Theatres (how appropriate!) near the Westside Pavilion in West L.A., but I don't know for how long. It's also playing somewhere in New York.

And yes, we're buying the mega-disk version in the cool packaging come December, even if it does come with that stupid unicorn origami thing.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Bad day for Los Angeles college football teams

The world is officially upside down. Most of the talk about today's game between USC and Stanford was how much of a fight Stanford would put up and how much USC would beat them by. It was bad enough that USC was generally only leading Stanford by a small number of points for most of the game. But had *anyone* been talking about USC actually losing to Stanford? Stanford beat USC by one point - and did I mention that Stanford had blocked an extra point attempt by USC? I still can't believe it. OK, so it's not completely unthinkable since USC hasn't been the powerhouse so far this year that they were last year and the year before, and Stanford has shown more life this year than last with their new coach. But Stanford actually beating USC? At the Coliseum no less? Whodathunk?

But that's not all. UCLA was playing the winless Notre Dame, who weren't so much the Fighting Irish this year as the Sucking Irish. And Notre Dame beat UCLA handily. At the Rose Bowl.

So on a week when Cal has a bye, they will probably move from number 3 to number 2, and there's talk about Cal actually being in the national championship game.

OK, where's Allen Funt and where are the cameras?

Friday, October 5, 2007

What in the hell is going on?

The universe seems to be going completely bonkers. OK, so the Eagles have been back together and even toured a couple times for multiple years now, and Hell is freezing over now? It's not kipple and it's not even entropy - it's outright Chaos. Even the full moon isn't until next Thursday, so what gives? There just seems to be so much going on right now with so many people, so many things that are unexpected and incredible, and I'm not talking about all good things either. And the worst part of it for me is that all I can really do is try to keep my head above water on my own things and then just sit and watch on the things that involve other people. I see the potential for hurt and problems and all kinds of other bad things - but there's nothing I can do to stop it, and that makes me crazy. All I can really do is be available to lend assistance if needed - and in the meantime, I'm forced to do nothing. I'm feeling a bit like Alex towards the end of "A Clockwork Orange". I can't look away, and I'm just forced to watch, but I won't become immune to what I'm seeing and witnessing.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Fashion Challenged

I'm always amazed when I find someone with less fashion sense than I have.

It's not about your body size - it's understanding what looks good on your particular body size. If the circumference of your ankle is the same as that of my thigh, then folding up your jeans so they're capri length is probably not the best thing to do. Then, wearing strapless heels that are so small in the back that it looks like you're standing on one of those little poles that they use on "Survivor" endurance/balance challenges makes it worse. And to top it all off, when the front of your foot looks like it's being crammed into the shoe so that it looks like you're an adult trying to get into feet binding, it's really just not a good overall picture. Accentuating your lower leg/ankle area, in this case, is the wrong choice.

And then there is the time that I remember most. I was at a local amusement park. The friends I was with wanted to go into a particular candy store, so I said I'd wait outside for them, and I was just milling around looking at things. About a minute or two later, they came and said I needed to go to the candy store. I said I didn't want to go to the candy store. They said they needed to go to the candy store. I said they could go, I wasn't stopping them, I'd wait for them. They insisted that I had to go to the candy store with them. Protesting that I didn't understand why I had to go with them, I turned to head towards the candy store, looked into the store and interrupted myself with "Oh my God." They hadn't really cared about me going into the candy store. They just wanted me to look in the doorway, where there stood a woman who was, ummmm, 200+ pounds, who was wearing a halter top that almost looked like a sports bra and spandex shorts. Now, ok, it was a very hot day, and everyone is whatever size they are, but come on, there's gotta be some recognition of your own appearance. When she walked out of the house that morning, did she really say, "Damn, I look good" or even "yeah, I'm ok to go out in public like this"?

I have worn my share of skimpy outfits. And I looked damn good in them. Now, I wouldn't so much look good in them, so I don't wear them anymore. That's not to say that I'm the fashion queen, and I'm sure I've been the object of "why is she wearing that with that" comments, but I'm ok with that. But to assault others by showing them more of me than should really be seen? That's something I try not to do.

Yeah, so I'm judgemental.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

"The Big Bang Theory", "Back to You" and "Kitchen Nightmares"

"The Big Bang Theory" - I love this show. And I love having a comedy where I literally laugh out loud multiple times during the course of the show. I was laughing and cringing during the whole segment about Superman catching (and not cutting into three pieces) Lois Lane. As we fast forwarded through the next commercial, I asked my husband if he knew what was really scary about that. He said, "Because you know people like that?" "No," I said, "I've *been* that." (Original "Battlestar Galactica" - squadrons were purple and orange, and I was right.) OK, let's see if I can remember names from now on. Kaley's character's name is Penny. The taller, geekier-looking guy is named Sheldon, and the shorter, not-quite-as-geeky-looking guy is named Leonard. I loved the whole bit about Sheldon not understanding sarcasm, though in my experience, geeks are actually quite good at sarcasm, using and getting. But the sarcasm sign that Leonard makes later is a perfect payoff to the joke. And I haven't met too many geek neat freaks, so Sheldon's got a lot more going on with him. And do two people really have that many different kinds of cereal on hand? I think at most, I had two for myself at any one time. I loved Kaley's reaction expressions - she is so incredibly good at that. And now I'm interested to see if they're going to continue the Bart-writes-a-different-thing-on-the-chalkboard-each-time gag in the end title card that has the production company name on it. They had it last week, and this week, it's a different card, so we're pausing to read. This one just had random bits of advice that were really funny. My favorite was: "Don't eat anything bigger than your head. True in the sixties. Still true now."

"Back to You" - Nothing spectacular in this episode, but still very funny, and yep, laughed out loud literally again. I love the demo tape that the would-be anchor had. He really could be the break-out character on this show. I wasn't terribly happy with the angle that the daughter and Chuck bonded over making fun of mom, but the drinking game was pretty funny. I did like when she had the litany of things that Chuck could attend and/or help with so it wasn't just fun and games being a parent. And I loved the cracks about the Disney cruise.

"Kitchen Nightmares" - You could tell this was going to be a short episode because they had that long intro at the beginning, as if this was the first episode rather than the third. Was this episode intended to be the first episode? Why are we being introduced to a show that we've seen two episodes of already? And the wife's comment about "don't talk to me like that" was shown something like 5 times during the course of the episode. Ummm, ok, I get it. No footage. This episode at least had a slightly different twist in that it wasn't about how dirty and rotten the food/kitchen was. It really was just about the attitude of the people and especially Billy, the owner. The biggest thing that bugged me about The Mixing Bowl? That it's an eatery and a restaurant. Grrrrr.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Does it taste better if you call it something different?

If you're having meat for a meal at a restaurant, you don't generally order "cow" or "pig". You order "beef" and "pork". So there are words for some of the animals that we consume. However, you do order "chicken" and "turkey". But you don't order "deer" or "sheep" - you order "venison" and "mutton". However, you do order "duck" and "rabbit" and "lamb". And of course, you order "fish" and the various multitude of shellfish (e.g., clams, lobsters, crab).

So why are there "meat" words for some animals but not for others? There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason for which animals get a different word. Is it meat that we eat on a very regular basis? Well, that works for beef and maybe pork but lots of chicken is also eaten, so that doesn't work. Maybe it's the cuteness factor. I'm not sure I'd consider cows and pigs awfully cute, but some might, so ok, they get a different food name. But rabbits and lambs can be amazingly cute, and they don't get food names. Toss that theory aside. Maybe it's animals that you're likely to have both as livestock and as pets, so you need a way to differentiate. That would make sense for the cows and pigs. But some people have chickens and ducks and rabbits as pets, but they don't get a different food name. And most people don't have deer as pets, but they do get a food name. OK, no go there either. Maybe it has to do with baby animals. Fertilized duck eggs are called "balut" instead of "duck embryos", but ducks don't have a food name, so that must be it. Ummm, except that lambs are baby sheep, and they don't have food names, but the adult sheep *do* have a food name. Back to the drawing board.

Who decided to come up with the alternate names and why? What would happen if I was at a restaurant and ordered a cowburger? Or if someone else ordered a pigchop?

Monday, October 1, 2007

"Desperate Housewives" and "Heroes"

"Desperate Housewives" - A good start to the new season. Bree with the whole baby thing was pretty funny. You knew something was going to happen. The bbq fork was pretty intense. Interesting to have her admit that she knows what kind of kids she's raised (at least in her daughter). Kudos to Felicity Huffman for having almost no makeup on to show the effects of the chemo on Lynette. The look on the faces of the other women when they saw her bald was priceless. I'm not all that invested in the story of Gabrielle and her rich husband, nor do I care all that much about her and Carlos, or Carlos and Edie for that matter, but psycho-Edie who won't let Carlos go and almost killed herself in her ploy is kinda interesting. Susan's complete insecurity made me laugh every time she told Mike "we're doomed". I loved Dana Delaney and look forward to seeing more of her. The last scene in the show made me literally scream at the TV because I want to know more. What happened in that attic? Why did they have no choice but to move back? What's with the daughter not remembering anything or it not even being the same girl? (At first, I thought it was some kind of Stepford thing. But then, all of Wisteria Lane has a kind of "Tales from the Dark Side" version of Stepford feel to it.) And why did they leave in the middle of the night? Oh, and I really like Julie.

"Heroes" - I enjoyed tonight's episode. Between the Japanese, Spanish and French, I think more of the show was subtitled than not! Still tickles me about that. Interesting about the twins - one kills and one heals. Wonder twin powers activate, my word. At the end of last season, I wasn't happy about where Hiro ended up, but I'm rather liking the story, and the Cyrano-esque tale is kinda interesting too. But I couldn't figure out if Hiro healed the gaijin or if the gaijin healed himself. And I think it's getting into one of those weird time-travel paradoxes where Hiro really was the Japanese hero that he learned about when he was a child. Oh, and I forgot to mention - I love seeing Stephen Tobolowsky. He's been in a bunch of stuff, but he's most memorable for me from "Sneakers". "Passport"!