Thursday, April 30, 2009

Morongo Casino Resort and Spa buffet - restaurant review

When we were in the Palm Desert area last month, we decided to stop at the Morongo Casino on the way home. I'd never been there before, and I wanted to have a look around, and we figured we'd give the buffet (Potrero Canyon Buffet) a try. We've been to a few of the buffets at the various hotels in Las Vegas, so it was a bit different at Morongo. In Vegas, a Sunday morning trip to the buffet would involve a long line and lots of waiting. The buffet at Morongo was somewhat busy but there were still lots of open tables. I think we got there about 11:30am. On Sunday, they offer a champagne brunch for $20, which is also much less than the buffets at the major hotels in Vegas.

They had a good selection of food items available including:

many cold salads
an assortment of fruit
cheese platter
omelet bar
regular breakfast foods
carved turkey, ham and prime rib
Mexican items
dim sum
Chinese broccoli
hot and sour soup
stir fry bar
breads and pastries
lots of desserts

For dim sum, they only had two items, which were good. The hot and sour soup was not to my liking at all.

It took a little while after we'd been seated for the server to come by, but otherwise, there were no service issues. The food was generally good, but nothing outstanding. The restaurant has a nice casual atmosphere.

Overall, we had a good brunch, but it wasn't as spectacular as some of the brunches that we've had at a Vegas hotel, but the few times I've been to non-Vegas casinos, that's been my experience. It's a decent place where you get good food for good value. I wouldn't object to going again, but it's probably not something I'd choose to do again or go out of my way to do again.

We did walk around the casino for a little bit after brunch, but they didn't really have any games that I liked. I played for a little while, and then I got bored, and we ended up leaving after about half an hour.

Morongo Casino Resort and Spa
Potrero Canyon Buffet
49500 Seminole Dr.
Cabazon, CA 92230
(800) 252-4499

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

it's called the Nano - that's how you can tell that it's really small

So it used to be that the carmakers were hell-bent on making ginormous cars - monster trucks. But with gas being more expensive and people having less disposable income, how about building small cars that are very affordable?

No, it's not the SMART car - it's the Nano.

I'm not a fan of the tiny car. Especially when it's got weird lines and shapes and such. And really, the bright yellow color isn't doing it any favors.

It only costs $2,000 in India, but once it gets to the States, with the markup and shipping costs and such, it'll cost significantly more than that. Or, maybe they can just FedEx them and get a bulk shipping deal.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

recipe for hilarity

A cat. A box. A video-recording device.

Orkid loves boxes too, but the ones she jumps in are a bit smaller than the one in the video.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Lakers and Ducks

The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Utah Jazz today in game five to advance to the next round. The 107 to 96 winning score doesn't quite tell the whole story, though. At one point in the fourth quarter, the Lakers were leading the Jazz by 22 points, but with most of the Lakers' starting lineup on the bench, the Jazz made a run, cutting the lead to 11 before the starters were back on the court to play, and the Jazz got as close as 6 points before the Lakers pulled away again, thanks in part to some missed layups by the Jazz. The Lakers are going to need to learn how to hold a score if they're going to try to win the championship. They'll get some time to rest before their next round, where they'll be up against the winner of the Portland/Houston series. The Houston Rockets currently lead the Portland Trailblazers 3 games to 1. Game five in their series is tomorrow night.

And in a stunner, the eight seeded Anaheim Ducks upset the first seeded San Jose Sharks by winning game six and taking the series 4 games to 2 to advance to the next round. I have no idea who the Ducks are supposed to play next, and really, I don't much care about hockey, but even I know the significance of this win.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Joss Whedon awarded the Bradbury Award (and "Wall-E" win as well)

As part of the 2009 Nebula Awards, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America awarded the Bradbury Award to Joss Whedon.

Here's Joss's acceptance speech.

Oh, and "Wall-E", written by Andrew Stanton and Pete Doctor, also won for Best Script. :)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Disney: The Music Behind the Magic - exhibit review

I've previously mentioned that an exhibit called Disney: The Music Behind the Magic would be coming to Southern California, and the husband and I drove out to Hemet last Saturday to check out the exhibit.

Hemet itself is kind of out in the boonies, and when we arrived in Hemet, we followed the GPS as it was telling us where to go to get to the Western Center for Archaeology and Paleontology. And we drove through the main section of Hemet. And we kept going. The husband said that we were being sent out to the boonies. I said that we were already in the boonies. His response was that we were going to the boonies of Hemet. That's really way far out there.

We kept driving, with me wondering where exactly we were being sent to. We turned on a street that I recognized as the name of the street that the museum was located on, so that was a good sign. And then I saw the building that looked like the picture I'd seen on the website, so we headed there.

It was a bit confusing because there weren't really any signs, and the signs that were there mentioned some other thing that was not where and what we were going to. OK then. We then drove toward the further end of the building and finally saw some signs that had the Western Center name on it, so at least we knew we were in the right place, so we parked.

As we walked up to the building, I noticed a sign in the ground mentioning something about the prevalence of snakes in the area and to be careful, and there was a drawing of a snake to emphasize the point. Me. Not happy.

We finally found the main entrance to the museum and went in.

The Disney exhibit is located inside the museum, so you just have to pay the museum entry price to get in, which is $8 for adults, $6.50 for seniors (62+), $6 for kids 5-12, and $6.50 for students (13-22 with a current ID). The museum is free for members, children under 5 and active military with current ID. The exhibit is located at the back of the museum, down the main hallway. The person at the front desk had mentioned that pictures were allowed everywhere else in the museum, but not in the Disney exhibit, so most of the pictures you see included here are taken from the website. I'm not really sure of the reason for not allowing the pictures, and I wasn't happy about that, but their rules, so we abided by them.

The entire exhibit is located in a large room where things are located on walls and in divisions in the middle. It's not too large so that you can't keep track of what you've seen and what you haven't, but because there was a group of people to the right when we walked in, we decided to go clockwise through the exhibit.

Here's a summary of most of the various stations inside the exhibit.

There's a section about the Silly Symphonies, and there are several devices which kind of look like giant Viewmasters that each show a different short.

There's a music trivia quiz that can accommodate four people at a time. You can choose to be Mickey, Ariel, Davy Crockett or Goofy, and it starts off with a couple of questions where you have a bit more time to answer by pushing either "A", "B" or "C", and then there's a speed round where you have less time to answer the questions. At the end of each round, it shows you what everyone's score is and then who the overall winner is. The questions range from classic movies to Broadway to theme park to records to current pop sensations.

There's a little room where you learn about foley using the Silly Symphonies short "The Band Concert". It's the concert segment itself, and there are a few items in the room that can simulate the noises that would be heard on screen. I thought there would be visual cues on screen to tell you when to do stuff, but instead, you're supposed to look at each item and see what picture is posted next to it. That shows you what part of the segment that noise should happen. There was a door you could slam, a machine that simulated the wind sound, and a few things that you had to hit with a mallet to simulate other sounds. You get one test try, and then during the real thing, a microphone is turned on to hear the sounds that you're making, which means it also records any talking going on during that. It was a bit confusing at first but still fun.

Right outside that room is a section on sound effects and how ordinary items can be used to make sounds that aren't what the item itself is.

The barker bird from the Tiki Room is on display with some information about where it used to be and what it used to do. Very pretty.

Belle's peasant dress from the Broadway musical "Beauty and the Beast" is on display. I only saw the show once, with a touring company version that I wasn't very enamoured of. I heard the larger production was quite spectacular. Her dress was very pretty, but much more sparkly and fancy than Belle's peasant dress in the film.

A couple of costumes from the Broadway musical "The Lion King" are on display - Mufasa, Sarabi and a wildebeest. When we were in New York a few years ago, we had done the backstage tour of the New Amsterdam Theatre when "The Lion King" was still being performed there, and they had the Mufasa and Sarabi masks that we could see and feel, and it was amazing how light they were. The entire outfit looks very cumbersome to maneuver onstage while you're actually trying to perform.

There is a section that has memorable music scenes in certain movies, and they show the scene first with commentary about why that particular music fits very well into the scene, and then they show the scene again as is. We watched the "Bella Notte" scene from "Lady and the Tramp".

There is another section about Walt Disney Recordings and their development and the 50 most significant releases they've had. They also had a few tracks that you could listen to. We listened to the opening number from the Broadway recording of the musical "The Lion King" (which is still amazing) as well as Walt Disney narrating a trip down Main Street in Disneyland.

There is a machine where you can experiment with mixing sounds using the song from the attraction "Pirates of the Caribbean". There are multiple levers, each of which controls one particular item, whether it's an individual singing voice, a harmonizer, the singing dog, the music, and so forth. By moving the levers up and down, you can make one part more prominent or more in the background. It was actually interesting to listen to the song as an a capella version with just the singers.

The costumes for Bert and Michael from the "Jolly Holiday" segment of the film "Mary Poppins" are on display, complete with stains and all. Guess they didn't wash the costumes back then.

The costume (dress and shoes) for Vanessa Hudgens from "High School Musical" is on display.

There is a wall of information and pictures and achievements of the most famous Mouseketeer of all, Annette Funicello.

There is another wall with information and pictures and such of the Sherman Brothers.

There is a section with merchandise and information about the Mickey Mouse Club, both its original incarnation and the later version. I had no idea Lisa Whelchel was a Mouseketeer.

There's a little section about a couple of Disney's animated movies which includes the original cassette containing the demo songs for "The Little Mermaid" and Phil Collins' hand-written lyrics for "You'll Be In My Heart" from "Tarzan".

There's a wall section about storyboarding using the "I Got No Strings" segment of "Pinocchio".

There is a wall with the original poster for "Bambi" and another wall with the original poster for "Fantasia".

There is a section about the song "When You Wish Upon a Star" and how popular a song it is and contains recordings by a number of different people that you can listen to.

There's another section about various popular Disney songs and how they've been covered by different people, and there are covers of different songs that you can listen to.

All of the sections mentioned above (except the foley room) include the use of headphones to hear the various elements, so that there's not a cacaphony of sound in the exhibit room. There are also four stations with continuous running video that is simply broadcast, no headphones required. There's a little bench in front of each so that you can sit and watch the video. The four videos are: legacy of Disney music, Disney's animation renaissance (beginning with "The Little Mermaid"), Disney's early animation, and the film "Mary Poppins".

The website has a video preview tour of the exhibit which gives a great overview.

After making our way around the exhibit, we decided to check out the rest of the museum since we were there anyway. There are a couple of smaller exhibits in the hallway that leads to the Disney exhibit, but the focus of the museum is the main exhibit hall which is where the mastodon and mammoth fossils are located. They have fossils of other animals as well. There is also a re-creation of a dig where some of the fossils were discovered. As I mentioned, pictures are allowed in this area, so the following few pictures are actually ours.

There are a number of separate displays and sections in the room with lots of things to learn about.

I liked this little domed re-creation.

This is another section that's particularly geared towards discovery. There is a little section that simulates the finding of fossils, where you can use different things like a brush or an air blower to clear sand to reveal what's underneath. The part I particularly liked was when it would re-set, shaking the sand to cover up the fossil again.

There's another section where you could solve a puzzle about one of the prehistoric creatures, and you're given a dossier card with clues and information.

Derail: this display looked incredibly like the information sheets we received for a competition that we participated in during the fall of 2008.

There's a theatre that shows two different short movies. We sat down to watch "Echoes of the Past, which transports viewers to a time when giant creatures roamed the area", as explained on the website. It was a decent enough little movie and gave us a few minutes to sit down.

Oh, and fyi, the restrooms inside the museum are located in the main exhibit hall, in the back towards the middle. There aren't too many signs, so we had to ask to find them.

We had arrived at about 11am, and it took about 2 hours or so to make our way through the entire Disney exhibit. We didn't listen to every single recording or study every single section, but we did most of what was available in that time. It wasn't very crowded when we first got there, but as it got later, I noticed more people come so that sometimes, you had to wait for a particular section.

After we were done with the museum, we headed over to the gift shop, called the Mastodon Trading Company, which is located outside the museum.

I wanted to see what merchandise might be available for the exhibit, but there wasn't much. I thought they might have a book of the exhibit, but after thinking about it more, since it's an exhibit about music and so much of it is interactive, a book really wouldn't be able to capture it. They had a magnet and a bunch of different apparel, both for kids and adults.

The logo used for most of the adult apparel was the one with the record, which I didn't think was as cute.

The logo I really liked had Mickey in a conductor's pose, but that logo was used only for the kids clothing and the jersey and sweatshirt for adults.

I'm not fond of jerseys, and I so don't need another sweatshirt, and they were a bit more expensive than I would have expected. They were having a sale on the Disney exhibit items, but because the logo wasn't on an article of clothing I wanted, I didn't end up buying anything.

I enjoyed the exhibit, and it was fun to see the various sections and play with the different things. Is it worth going to? Well, you can't beat the low-priced entrance fee, but it's really a matter of where you'd be coming from. Hemet isn't exactly centrally located, and there's really nothing else of note to do out there, so it's not even like you could really make a day of it. We drove out, saw the exhibit, found a place for lunch afterwards, and then drove home, about an hour and a half drive each way. The exhibit is nice, but I wouldn't say that there was anything in it that was spectacular enough to say that everyone should go no matter what. Of course, if there's something specific in any of the sections that I mentioned that particularly appeals to you, then it might be worth the drive out there from wherever you are. I'm a little confused as to why they chose that particular location to have the exhibit - archeology and paleontology don't really have an automatic easy connection to an exhibit about Disney music. Also, I would figure they would have many more visitors if it was somewhere a bit easier to get to or closer to a Disney location.

The exhibit runs through May 10, and the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 10am to 5pm.

Western Center for Archeology and Paleontology
2345 Searl Parkway
Hemet, CA 92543
(951) 791-0033

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wanna bite into a nice chocolatey Han Solo?

So I was wandering around the net looking for something (this is actually what I was looking for - the husband wants Donald as Han, and I think Minnie as slave Leia is a really surprising choice for Disney to have approved, but I digress), and I came across a website with instructions on how to make your own Han Solo in carbonite chocolate bar.

I literally laughed out loud. It's more complicated than I'd like to do, but I think that would be a great party favor.

You know what someone really needs to sell though? A Han Solo in carbonite ice maker mold. That would be awesome. Just about as awesome as a Tauntaun sleeping bag.

an apple a day, the interesting way

As I mentioned, we were at the Disneyland Resort on Easter Sunday, and we happened to be walking around Downtown Disney at one point. One of the shops in Downtown Disney is called Marceline's Confectionery, which is a candy/chocolate/treat shop owned by Disney and named after Walt Disney's home town. Like at Disneyland and DCA, they also have specially-made apples covered in not just caramel and such, but some of the creations are pretty amazing. As we walked past the shop, we noticed that they had a special apple created for the day.

I can't remember if the apple was initially coated in chocolate or caramel - I think the latter. Then it was rolled in white sugar crystals. The ears are made from regular-size marshmallows cut in half then sprinkled with pink sugar crystals. The eyes are each a drop of chocolate, and the nose is a drop of pink frosting. The puffy cheeks are made with two small marshmallows. We thought it was so cute!

They actually had deconstructed bunny apples - all the ingredients needed to make the bunny apple - set out right next to it.

I'm not sure if Disneyland or DCA had these bunny apples as well or if they were just being made at Marceline's.

These kinds of apples, though, are not what I think people had in mind when they encourage people to have their daily apple. They're usually coated in so much chocolate and candy and stuff that by the time you get to the actual apple, you're already too full to eat it. I always think it's funny to see the ones where they just cut up Snickers bars or peanut butter cups and then basically just embed them into the sides of the apple. It's a billion calories, but hey, it's got to be healthy, because it's an apple! :)

Marceline's has had special apples before. Notably, in December of 2007 they had made snowman apples for the winter season. But the display reminded us more of the march of the zombie snowman apples.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

magical memories - Big Thunder BBQ at Disneyland, then and now

One of the restaurants that used to be at Disneyland was called Big Thunder Barbeque. When I got my first annual pass and started hanging out with a bunch of people at Disneyland, Big Thunder Barbeque was one of our favorite places to go. They had great-tasting barbeque in a nice setting with dirt floors to match the theming of the restaurant. There was also a nice firepit that would have a roaring fire at night. It was nice to have lunch there, but it was really great to have dinner there. Either way, our group was usually big enough to take up a couple of tables, and we'd sit around after we were done eating to just chat and enjoy each other's company. If we had dinner there, we'd watch and listen to the crackling fire and watch the kids who would invariably be gathered around it. Even in the middle of summer, we'd still want to go to the barbeque, but if it was a really hot day, we'd just wait until dinner time to go, when the heat had died down some.

There were a number of times when I'd just sit at one of the tables, maybe having bought just a drink. A stage show called the Festival of Fools was performed in the adjoining arena, so you could hear the show from there. If they were in the middle of a show, they wouldn't let you in anymore, but you could hear the show from the barbeque seating. And I became enough of a regular at the show that I could generally recognize the voices and so knew which actor/actress was playing which role for that particular show. I'd wait in that area until the show was over, and then I'd wander into the arena to wait for the next show.

One of the most memorable times at Big Thunder Barbeque sort of involved the Festival of Fools show. There was a little alcove nearby where the show performers might come out to talk to people. One of the people we were friends with, K, had gotten to know the performers, so she'd wait around in that alcove for them to come out. One night, after we'd seen a show, we wandered over there with her. We said hi to them, and she stayed and talked to them for a while, and we ended up heading to dinner first. K said she'd meet us at the barbeque in a bit, after she was done talking to them, so we said ok. We made our way to the barbeque and got in line. The husband had wanted to order something, but for some reason, it wasn't available that night. I can't remember what the item was, though. We all put our orders in, got our food and found a table to settle ourselves. He had also ordered an apple cobbler for dessert (a dessert item that was quite popular at that location), and they said they'd bring it out to the table. After we'd sat down and had started our meal, someone came out and was very apologetic that they had APPARENTLY (TM) run out of the apple cobbler. The person asked the husband if there was any of the other desserts he wanted, but there wasn't anything else, so the husband just asked for a refund. The person apologized some more for the mixup.

The person was gone for a little while and then came back with the refund of the cobbler - as well as a humongous plate of food. There were several pieces from each of the meat items on the menu - beef ribs, pork ribs, chicken, and I believe even a turkey leg. It was just about closing time for the restaurant, and I guess they had all that leftover food anyway, but they felt bad that two times that night, the husband had been disappointed that something he wanted wasn't available, so they decided to bring out the extra goodies for us. We thanked them very much for bringing all of that out to us. We each helped ourselves to one of the items from the plate, but there was still plenty left. Very soon thereafter, we saw our friend K about to get in line to buy her dinner since she was done talking to the performers, so we yelled out to her that all she needed was to get a drink. She was confused but complied, and it wasn't until she came to the table with her drink that she saw all the food on the table. We explained the situation to her and said there was no point in her buying more food since we already had so much at the table.

We had such a good dinner that night!

Then on a weekend in January of 2001, the husband and I happened to decide to go to the barbeque for lunch. And we were stunned to learn that it was closing day of the barbeque. We'd not heard about that, and not very many people seemed to have known ahead of time either, and this was way before the days when any little bit of news immediately hit the internet and Twitter and Facebook and such. They had made souvenir plastic mugs that they were selling, so we of course bought one. It was cute regardless, but it was also a nice commemoration of the barbeque.

We were sad that the barbeque was closing. They've had barbeque items at various times since then at some of the other Disneyland restaurants, but none of them have matched the flavor of Big Thunder Barbeque's, and none of them even came close to matching the atmosphere.

Well, as of earlier this month, barbeque has returned to the Big Thunder Ranch area. It's a bit different, and it's really kind of funny how much of a geek some of us were to be so happy just to be able to eat in that area again - and then we were having barbeque there again no less!

Here's my review of our Easter lunch visit to the new barbeque at Big Thunder Ranch. We won't be going nearly as often to this barbeque meal as during its previous incarnation, but with our Easter visit, we've already started making more magical memories.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

I'm not an Earth Day person. I have my own viewpoints on that, which I don't feel like going into, but Earth Day did have one really positive outcome.

Google has a really pretty logo today!

Oh, and the husband and I are going to see "Earth" on Saturday morning at the El Capitan Theatre, but that's just because it looks like a good movie. Polar bears and whales? I am *so* there!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour to make a comeback!

Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour used to be a chain that was in quite a number of locations when I was a kid. I remember going to the Rosemead location after plays and concerts I was in when I was in junior high school, and I also spent time there during my high school years and after I came home after college. But over the years, the chain died down (many years later, I visited the old Rosemead location, which had turned into Dixieland, and now, I think it's a Chinese restaurant), and the last one I knew of was in the San Diego area. A new one opened up in Temecula but that one didn't last long. Then I heard that one had opened up in Santa Clarita, in the Mountasia Family Fun Center, and the husband and I made a trek there when we were going to Magic Mountain one year. We had a terrific time there. We've been back on a couple of occasions, but it's a seriously long trek for us to make, so it's not something we are keen to do often. There are also two locations in Hawaii, but that's seriously even more geographically undesirable as far as visiting is concerned.

Today, a friend tweeted that Farrell's was now on Twitter, so I immediately started following them. I then found out that Farrell's also has a presence on Facebook, so I connected with them there as well.

They've announced that a location is due to open in Orange County, but they haven't said where yet. A few years ago, Farrell's was supposed to open at The Block in Orange, but after several trip-ups, that fell through, I think because of some legal entanglements. That is seemingly not where they will be opening, and I've gotten some information that they might be opening in Mission Viejo, but I hope that's older news. I'd love to have a Farrell's closer than having to trek to Santa Clarita, but Mission Viejo really wouldn't be much closer.

I'm excited to hear the announcement of where the new location will be and when it will open.

If you're interested in learning more or reminiscing about Farrell's, Roger Baker has a great unofficial site with lots of history and pictures and such.

Monday, April 20, 2009

they already have these nifty inventions called jackets and blankets

So, there are these things called Snuggies. And people APPARENTLY (TM) feel the need to wander around in public with them.

But a pub crawl?

I will admit that I don't get the point of a Snuggie. I have sweatshirts. And jackets. And throw blankets. And this spiffy thing called a robe. The other day, I was a little cold at home while I was watching TV in the morning, so I put a light robe one. If I had put my robe on backwards, it would have looked like these Snuggie things they're wearing. Except that my robe is a lot cuter. It's black and white and has polar bears on it and was a gift from a friend multiple years ago.

Did I mention that I don't get Snuggies?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"Mamma Mia" count and venue update

The "Mamma Mia" overall count is now at thirteen, at eleven different venues: the Shubert Theatre (formerly in Los Angeles), The Ahmanson (in Los Angeles), Mandalay Bay (in Las Vegas), the Pantages Theatre (in Los Angeles), Orange County Performing Arts Center, the Pasadena Playhouse, the Long Beach Civic Auditorium, the Cadillac Winter Garden (in New York), Orange County Performing Arts Center again, the San Diego Civic Theatre, Mandalay Bay (in Las Vegas) again, the Fred Kavli Theatre at the Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks, and the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert.

The show is also currently playing at the Pantages again, but because we weren't terribly enamoured of the company that we saw at the McCallum, who would be the same company playing the Pantages, we decided not to go. How weird is that? But we have seen the same company before multiple times, so that in itself wasn't an issue. We wouldn't have even had the added benefit of a new venue to add to our list since we've already seen the show at the Pantages.

And even weirder than that is that while we're not seeing the show even though it's playing locally, I know five different people who did see the show during its current run at the Pantages.

I think we've actually run out of local venues now.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

you're at the movies, you're not at home

So a couple of weeks ago, we went to the movies. It wasn't terribly crowded when we got there, and that particular theatre has a section of upper seats that are separated from the bottom section by a walkway, so the first row of the upper section is pretty comfortable since you don't have to squeeze past people to get to your seat, and the extra legroom is also more comfortable for the husband. There were a few open seats near the middle, so I asked the man sitting next to the furthest open seats if the two seats I was pointing to were available since I noticed a drink in the cupholder over from him. He sort of grunted a "yes" like he wasn't sure why I was talking to him. OK, then, so we sat down. Later on, a woman came and took the empty seat between us, and she was there with him.

So it's the pre-show, and they were talking kind of loud, more loudly than you'd normally expect, but ok. And then the trailers started, and they were still talking kinda loud. Fine, it's the trailers, and I'm actually paying attention, but it's not the movie itself. And they showed a lot of trailers that day, which yeah, gets to be a little tedious after a while. When they finally showed the inroduction to the feature presentation, the man yelled out very loudly, "It's about time." Ummm, dude, who are you talking to, and why do you think the rest of us want to listen to you?

So then the movie started. And the man talked periodically about what was happening on screen. And occasionally, the woman responded to him. It wasn't non-stop chatter, but it was more than the occasional comment when something major happened on screen. When he was making casual comments, he was also not doing it to his companion in a softer tone - he was just saying it to the screen at regular volume. Because the talk wasn't prevalent, I just let it go, hoping that once the movie settled in, he'd stop. No such luck. Now, mind you, we were seeing "Fast and Furious", so it wasn't quite as disruptive as if we were seeing a more "serious" or quieter film, but having someone talking a lot is really distracting and irritating.

Finally, during one particular section, he was talking so much that I turned and asked him to please stop talking. And the woman then turned to me and said she was sorry, that she'd been telling him to stop talking, but he wouldn't listen to her. Ummm, ok, so we're ignoring the fact that you've also been RESPONDING TO HIM as well? And then I could hear the man getting all pissy about how he was sitting there first, and he can say whatever he wants, and if I don't like it, I can move. Well, dude, if you had warned me when I sat down that you were going to flap your jaw throughout the movie, I would have picked somewhere else to sit. And just because you sat down first doesn't give you the right to disrupt the movie-viewing experience of those around you.

So he still made the occasional comment throughout the rest of the film, and his companion alternated between trying to get him to stop talking and actually responding to what he was saying.

So then the movie ended and the credits rolled. The woman turned to me and apologized again for his behaviour and said something else that I don't really recall but which gave me the impression that he did this all the time. I kind of said "whatever" - I don't remember what I actually said, but I was watching the credits and really not interested in talking to her. After a couple minutes, the two of them got up to leave, and the man made some kind of snarky comment as he walked past - I can't remember what he said. As I was still watching the screen, I said, "Have a nice day," which seemed to infuriate him, and he was jabbering something else at me when the woman pulled him away.

OK, so dude is the one being disruptive at the movies, and all I did was to ask him once to please stop talking, and he gets all indignant and belligerent because I had the nerve to do that? And his companion is the one who brought it up at the end of the movie - I'd said nothing about the matter again, and I didn't engage in the conversation she was trying to start with me, so it wasn't like I was harping on the issue. Yeah, he was annoying with his talking, but I was mostly just trying to enjoy the movie. And he was the one who continued it with his snarky comment on the way out. I guess my wishing him a nice day (my tone wasn't entirely sarcastic) ticked him off because I dared to have anything to say back to him.

And then there's the woman. OK, so you're apologizing for his behaviour, but since that seems to be typical behaviour for him, you must put up with it all the time. And not only do you put up with it, you were participating in the talking at times as well. At the movies, I will make the occasional comment to a companion, but that's usually whispered, or I might react to something on screen with a cheer or whatever, but that's usually with the rest of the audience. If I ever went to the movies with someone who not only felt it was ok to talk throughout the movie, but who felt entitled to do so and got belligerent at anyone who objected, I can tell you that I'd never go to the movies with this person again.

As if the two of them weren't enough of an annoyance, then there were the several parties in the audience who APPARENTLY (TM) thought it was perfectly ok to bring their babies and young children to this movie. They were bored and fidgety and there were at least two babies who cried for a bit at different times during the movie. It wasn't quite as bad as the people who brought their young teens to see "Shaft" as far as exposing kids to movies and language that I don't personally think is appropriate, but "Fast and Furious" is not a kids movie. There wasn't a ton of bad language or sex, but there were a couple of fairly graphic make-out scenes and one scene that ended before two of the characters actually had sex, and there was also a lot of explosions and car crashes and one graphic (though not bloody) on-screen death. So even if you just put aside whether or not your young child should be watching this sort of thing (the movie is rated PG-13), there's also the issue that your child is disrupting the movie, whether with the crying or the talking because he/she is bored or because the baby was delightedly discovering the sound of his own voice and wanted to test it out in the theatre. If it's a kids' movie or at least a family-type movie, I can understand that better. But there is nothing about this movie that fits either of those two categories. "But I can't find a babysitter" is the excuse I've heard on occasion for taking your child to an inappropriate movie and/or letting your child be disruptive. OK. Then you don't get to go. As a responsible parent and hopefully someone who takes into account the movie-going experience of others, if you can't find someone to watch your child, then you don't get to go to the movies for films that are inappropriate for your child to be at. I know plenty of people who find someone to sit for their kids while they go to the movies or who just don't go because they can't.

If you want to talk back at the screen on a regular basis and in a normal tone, do that at home. If you want to expose your children to movies that they really shouldn't be watching yet, I can't help if you choose to do that at home. But if you're used to having to watch a movie while your child is talking or crying or screaming or whatever because you're at home, you don't get to subject the rest of us to the same thing.

Oh, and through all that - I still enjoyed the movie.

Friday, April 17, 2009

yet another reason why I want to go back to London

OK, so I've only been to London once, and it was ages ago, and I had a terrific time, and I've so wanted to go back for lots of reasons.

And now, I've got one more - but I've only got a week left!

I heard about a bar in London that releases vaporized gin and tonic into the air - so you get the effect of the drink without the actual drinking. How cool is that? They could do different drinks every hour! And the price is pretty reasonable. I could so become a regular at a place like that. I'm not sure I'd actually like the taste of a gin and tonic (Anyone else have Douglas Adams pop into their mind at the mention of that drink?), but it won't matter since I won't actually be tasting it.

Here's the link to get to the official site for the bar.

OK, I browsed around that site, and there are lots of interesting things.

The Victorian breakfast looks pretty cool, though I'm not sure what most of it is or if I'd even like it.

The flavour tripping is interesting to me mostly because I just learned about the miracle berry this week! I think that would be pretty funky.

I think the glow-in-the-dark jelly would be quite popular in the adult entertainment industry.

And then there's the scratch and sniff cinema. Now, conceptually, I think it could be interesting, depending on the scents of course. But what movie are they using for this? "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover"! OK, part of me understands why they picked that, because of the culinary theme, but that's one seriously twisted movie! I've seen a number of twisted movies in my time, let me tell you, but that one certainly takes the cake, if you'll pardon the pun. I can't imagine ever wanting to see that movie again.

If they're going for culinary movies with good scents, how about "Big Night" or "Eat Drink Man Woman"?

Hmmm, how about a scratch and sniff cinema night inside a bar that pumps out vaporized alcohol?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Paley Fest "Dollhouse" panel - April 15, 2009

The Paley Center For Media (formerly known as the Museum of Television and Radio) hosts an event called Paley Fest every year. For a period of about two weeks, they do events each night highlighting a different television show, with people from the show in attendance. The events are all held at the Arclight Theatre's Cinerama Dome. I'm not sure how long they've been held there or where they were held previously - maybe at the Center itself?

Tickets are first available to members and then non-members, and members also get a discount. In prior years, most of the nights are sold out fairly quickly, so I was surprised to learn that tickets were still available for some nights. The two shows I wanted to go to were "Dollhouse" and "The Big Bang Theory". Unfortunately, the panel for "The Big Bang Theory" is on a night when I already have plans, so I was sorry it wasn't on a different night so I could go. Initially, I didn't think I'd be able to go to the "Dollhouse" one either. But then, there were rumblings about the season finale not being shown (more info about that later) and uncertainty about whether the show would be around next year, so I figured if I didn't go to this, I might not have the chance again. So we decided to go after all.

Ticketing is divided into two sections. Section one is the first five rows in the theatre. Section two is the rest of the theatre and about $15 cheaper. I had considered getting the front section, but that section was already sold out. In the end, I'm glad I got the second section. It had occurred to me that the difference between sitting in the last row of section one and the first row of section two was $15, which didn't seem like a good deal.

I got to the theatre, got my parking validation (normal validation for seeing a movie is $2 for the first 4 hours, but for special events, it's $3 for the first 4 hours) and then headed inside. I didn't see the rest of my party yet and looked around at the bottom section, but it seemed mostly full. I then noticed the upper level section and found three seats in the first row, just about dead center, which were unoccupied. Perfect. Great view, especially since it was higher than the front section, so I didn't have to worry about looking over someone's head. Don't need section one tickets. A friend joined me shortly thereafter, and then the husband arrived a bit later.

The night was a lot of fun. I'm glad we decided to go after all. In attendance were Joss, two of the show runners whose names I don't know but both are female, Eliza, and the actors who play Topher, Sierra and November. The actors playing Victor, Boyd and DeWitt had been scheduled to be there, but there must have been a change of plans.

Oh, before the panel, they showed a little clip of a "Twilight Zone" episode about a dollhouse. Then they showed the "Needs" episode of the show - the one where Echo, Victor, Sierra and November are allowed to go off their meds. It was really interesting to see the episode on the big screen. And I also caught a bunch of stuff I didn't catch the first time around.

People may have heard about the whole "13th episode" controversy, so Joss gave an update on that. "Dollhouse" is produced by Fox and shown on Fox, but studio Fox and network Fox are different. Network Fox didn't like the original pilot for the show that was produced, so Joss ended up making a second pilot, and most of the original pilot has been or will be cannibalized into the various episodes. Network Fox asked for 13 shows, but since there were two pilots, that meant they only needed 11 actual episodes. Episode #12 is going to be the season finale, and Joss made it that way. However, studio Fox needed 13 episodes for foreign sales and DVD sales, so they went to Joss and wanted him to do some kind of 13th episode to complete their packages. They asked about a clip episode, which Joss deemed as "lame". The 13th episode is a sort of stand-alone episode that is supposed to be quite odd and different and includes a bunch of other people, though there is footage of the regular dollhouse folks as well. Network Fox doesn't currently have plans to show the 13th episode since their 13 episode order commitment will have already been filled by #12 as the season finale, but Joss says they are considering showing it after all. No final decision has been made yet.

Joss also says that while he's not been given any word about continuing the show next season, he actually has some hope that they'll get that chance. Ratings have been just ok, but he said the demographic is good and the studio likes the show. Joss sounded very excited about the show and said that there were a lot of stories he still wanted to tell. He did say that the remaining episodes are absolutely killer, so I'm really looking forward to seeing them.

The moderator asked the people on the panel various questions, and then they opened it up to some questions from the audience.

Highlights that I can remember:

I thought the crowd was going to riot when a guy who was asking a question addressed "Josh", and when the crowd reacted, he had no idea why they were reacting that way. Bad place to get his name wrong, dude.

Someone asked if there were only 26 actives since they're using the military alphabet. Joss said they can have more than that, and that the same "name" can be used more than once - he said something about maybe revealing info about the prior Sierra and what happened to her, since the present Sierra was made in the first show.

The actress playing November said that the sleep pods were actually quite comfy. That led to a question about which room on set was the favorite of each person. Eliza said it was the crafts room and then mentioned something else as Joss was miming the drawing-your-finger-across-your-throat move so she'd stop talking about it since it's from an episode that hasn't aired yet. The actor playing Topher joked that his favorite is the lab since that's where he always seems to be. He did say he likes Dr. Saunders' office.

Someone asked how the original pitch meeting went, and Joss said it actually went quite well. He had six years of story arcs mapped out at the time to show them.

Joss said that none of the episodes were shot in order, so oftentimes, he'd have to give the actors a cheat sheet to tell them what their characters knew at that point in time and what information the actors already knew but the characters didn't because those events hadn't happened in the show timeline yet.

The actress playing November said that she was excited when she first read the script that revealed November as an active. She said she had to keep it all a secret from her friends and family and just told them that her character might just be making lasagna for now, but other stuff was coming down the line.

They were talking to the actor who plays Topher (who was much more Topher-like than I expected him to be), and he said that he really just wanted a very mundane scene for Topher, like Topher shopping at the grocery store. And he'd just be walking down an aisle, and he'd look up, and Ballard would be shopping in that same store, on the same aisle. Ballard wouldn't know who Topher was, but Topher would freak at seeing Ballard. Everyone laughed at this story, and the husband and friend who I was there with and I all figure that if there's a second season, Joss is so going to fit that in somewhere.

It was funny to see Joss dressed really casually, and then sitting right next to him was Eliza in this low-cut but cute sequined short dress. The spotlight was on the stage, so she was like a disco ball - really hard not to notice her. She looked great.

After the panel was over, quite a number of the people in the audience rushed toward the stage, and they all stayed around for quite some time, signing autographs and having their pictures taken.

The Paley Fest panel nights are actually kind of expensive, but it was definitely worth going to this one.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Happy Tacks Day!

They're kind of pretty in a way, don't you think? Kind of shiny. Yeah, ok, so they wouldn't be too much fun if you sat on them or pricked your finger on them, but other than that, what's not to like? Hey, they created a whole day to celebrate them! ;)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Travelodge Cathedral City - hotel review

We had occasion to be in Palm Desert for a show, and not wanting to make the drive back home that night, we decided to stay locally. The last time we did this, we ended up at a Marriott vacation club at a really inexpensive price. We weren't quite as lucky this time, so we ended up at the Travelodge in Cathedral City for a really good price. There are a number of cities that are very close to each other, so we weren't that far away from where we'd be having dinner and seeing the show.

We parked and checked in, and while we were in the lobby, another couple came in looking for a room, and the clerk told them that they were completely sold out, as were most hotels in the area because there was a golf tournament and a number of other events going on that weekend, so we were lucky that we booked early enough not only to have a room at all, but to get one for such a good price - even the clerk commented on the great low price we'd gotten.

I'm used to motels having room access doors on the outside, so I was surprised that such was not the case in this instance. The clerk directed us to go to a door on the complex and said that our room key would open the door, which led to the corridors down which the interior room doors were located. Our room was on the second floor.

The hotel ended up working out really well for us. We didn't really need any amenities since we really just needed somewhere to sleep. We weren't in the room very much. The husband appreciated that the room had an iron and ironing board, and we were only in the room long enough to get changed, and then we were off to dinner and the show, and we didn't return until much later that evening. We were in the room mostly just to sleep for the night, and we were up and gone by about 10am the next morning.

I'm not sure if the hotel has a pool or any other amenities like that since we had no interest in it. There was really no view to speak of from our room - I think it was the back of the building next door. The hotel had a sign outside about being renovated, and the place didn't look completely run down, but there were various rips in the carpet, and I think the elevator to the second floor wasn't working. None of that really bothered us since we didn't need a place with frills.

They do offer free WiFi in the room, which the husband knew because he'd seen it on the website, but there was nothing in the room that indicated they had free WiFi. The husband tried to get to it, and then he called the front desk, and the clerk gave him the password needed to get into the network. I just thought it was really weird that nothing in the room even mentioned the WiFi and there was nothing to tell you that you needed to get the password from the front desk.

If you're going to be spending some time at the hotel or want a nicer place with better amenities, this probably isn't the place for you. But if you just want a clean, inexpensive, convenient place to stay, I think this place works fine.

67-495 Highway 111
(Golf Club Drive & Eagle Canyon Way)
Cathedral City, CA 92234
(760) 328-2616

Monday, April 13, 2009

rot in jail, asshole

Bail was increased to $2 million for Andrew Gallo, the guy who killed Angels' pitcher Nick Adenhart and two other people in the same car. The fourth person in the car is currently in serious condition.

Gallo was driving with a suspended license and with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit. He had previously pled guilty to drunken driving in 2006.

Gallo is charged with three counts of murder, drunk driving and fleeing the scene of a crash.

I'm hoping that the $2 million bail will mean that he doesn't get out before his trial date. Frankly, I don't know why they're even offering him bail, in any amount. He has already proven that taking away his license means nothing, and letting him back on the street again means that he's going to kill more people.

His lawyer says that he's devastated by what happened and that he's distraught, which is why he was in tears in court.

Really. And how devastated do you think Nick Adenhart's parents and other family and friends are? How distraught do you think the family and friends of Courtney Stewart are? How many tears do you think have been shed and will be shed by the family and friends of Henry Pearson? How do you think the family and friends of Jon Wilhite have felt over the past week, as he's been in surgery and still in the hospital, hoping and praying that he recovers? And who is going to take away the pain from Wilhite, who for the rest of his life will have to live with what happened that night?

So Gallo is sorry. Yeah, so what if he is? Even if he is really and truly sorry - what is that going to do for Nick Adenhart or Courtney Stewart or Henry Pearson or Jon Wilhite? Was Gallo not sorry when he pled guilty to drunk driving last time? So this time, after he's killed three people, injured a fourth, and forever changed the lives of countless others connected to the four people in that car, oh, now he's learned his lesson, he promises to never do that again, so just shake a finger at him and then let him go?

No, Mr. Lawyer for Gallo - it wasn't a terrible accident. It was terrible all right, but in no way was it an accident. You are scum for trying to characterize it that way. An accident is something that just happens, that has no way of being prevented, a fluke. This wasn't a fluke. Gallo knew he had a problem with drinking and driving. He'd already pled guilty to it. Not been *found* guilty - PLED guilty. He admitted it. And then he just kept doing it. Exactly how much did he have to drink to have THREE TIMES the legal limit? I know that alcoholism is not something easily controlled. But he was given a chance. And the price for that chance he was given are the very lives of three people who will never see another day, and the life of a fourth whose life will never be the same.

Mr. Gallo, if you are truly sorry for what happened, then be a man and take the punishment you deserve. Don't shirk your responsibility yet again. You already did that when you decided to not complete the terms of your sentencing from your previous case, when you decided to drink enough to have three times the legal driving limit of alcohol in your blood, and when you decided to get in the van and drive. There are consequences to actions, no matter what the actions. There are consequences to YOUR actions. You've already taken the lives of Nick and Courtney and Henry and taken so much from Jon. Now you need to take the consequences of what you did.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Domo, Gloomy and their Peeps wish everyone a very happy Easter!

Here's to hoping that you enjoy lots of TV, that you don't encounter any wild animals who can't help themselves but to kill you, and that you aren't forced to engage in a war where you're spinning around and around while you get fatter and fatter.

And then, of course, there's this classic commercial for your enjoyment.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Blue Frog Dessert House and Bakery - restaurant review

I had arranged to meet a friend today in Old Towne Orange to do some shopping at another friend's store, so afterward, we walked two businesses over to have lunch at Blue Frog Dessert House and Bakery.

I've been to Blue Frog on a couple of prior occasions. They have quite a number of baked goods, but they also have several items available for breakfast and lunch. I've never been there early enough for breakfast though.

Two of the specials of the day were chicken pot pie and macaroni & cheese. As much as I love mac and cheese, and as much as the description of the dish from the girl at the counter sounded soooooo good, I decided that it would be better for me to have at least some protein that day, so I opted for the chicken pot pie. I added the side salad to the order. My friend ended up getting the chicken pot pie as well.

One of the things that I really like about Blue Frog is that they have an upstairs loft section. The main floor has tables as well (they also have some tables out front), but the upstairs has tables as well as two sofas, and it's much cozier and quieter upstairs. There's also a restroom upstairs, which is pretty convenient. The only time the upstairs is unavailable is if there's a party and the room is rented out. And I think it would be a great place to have a private party. Good food, nice ambience, a bit more secluded from the rest of the restaurant, and a restroom handy nearby. The only thing would be that other patrons would have to walk through your party space to get to the restroom, but that just means they'd be jealous that they weren't invited to your fun and fabulous party.

Luckily, the room wasn't reserved this afternoon, though I was disappointed that the sofa area was already occupied, so we opted for a small table overlooking the restaurant.

You put your order in at the counter, and then all of your food is brought to you. The side salad ended up being much larger than I had expected, so my friend and I decided to share it. It was a nicely done, very simple salad. Then they brought our chicken pot pies, and those looked really good. There was one piece of puff pastry on the dish and then the chicken pot pie filling was poured on top, with another piece of puff pastry sitting on top. The filling was nicely flavored and a good consistency, and you got the puff pastry with the pot pie filling covering it, but you could also just have the puff pastry by itself because of the extra piece on top. It was quite delicious.

Someone came up to check on us a couple of times as well as to clear our finished dishes away. We had a good time enjoying our lunch and good conversation.

It's really hard to go to Blue Frog and not have some kind of baked goodie. For various reasons, I've been on a red velvet cupcake kick over the past couple of months, so when I saw that they had red velvet cupcakes, I couldn't resist. They had a lemon bar as well, which I usually find tempting, but I'll have to save that for another time. I got one of the red velvet cupcakes to go. It had a lot of frosting on top then crumbled cupcake bits sprinkled on top.

I ate the cupcake at home later, and it was quite tasty. I'm not generally a fan of frosting, and while it looked cute, there was entirely too much frosting for my taste. I think I had just a bit to taste and then left the rest of it. I think I tasted a little bit of cherry filling (with cherry bits) right at the top of the cupcake. Overall, it was pretty yummy.

I've enjoyed each of the meals I've had at Blue Frog, as well as their varied desserts. I've brought a couple friends to the place, and they've seemed to enjoy it as well. The service has always been pleasant, though this time, both people we dealt with were particularly friendly, so that was really nice.

Timed parking is available either on the street or in nearby city lots.

The only time I get to go to Blue Frog is certain occasions when I'm visiting the friend's shop, but I always look forward to each visit.

Here's a link to the menu for Blue Frog.

Tuesday - Saturday 7am to 5pm
Sunday 8:30am to 3pm
Monday closed

Blue Frog
Dessert House and Bakery
136 South Glassell Street
Old Towne Orange, CA 92866
(714) 538-3764

Friday, April 10, 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Would you hire a Lego person?

As everyone knows, there are all kinds of Lego people, doing all kinds of different jobs. But how did they get those jobs? Didn't they have to apply for them? Ever wonder what the potential employer might think about hiring a Lego person? Well, wonder no more.

A Lego Man calls a construction business for a job. (Yeah, it's a prank call, which can be kind of mean because it takes up the other person's time, but I mostly like the visuals attached to the phone conversation.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"The Simpsons" - mail call

On May 7, 2009, the United States Postal Service is releasing five new postage stamps (one for each of the main family members) themed to the long-running animated television show "The Simpsons". The cost of a first-class stamp increases to $0.44 in May.

According to this article, the Postal Service wants people to vote on their favorite Simpsons stamp. Here's the link to the Simpsons page on the Postal Service website, where you can cast your vote. Here's a link to the Postal Service store which shows what other Simpsons items are available.

I'm wondering how many people still even buy stamps to mail things. I do on occasion, but not very often.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

"Fast and Furious" - spoiler movie review

I hadn't seen any of the other films in the franchise, but the trailer for "Fast and Furious" looked really good - action movie with lots of good stunts - yeah, ok, I'm there.

I'd really like to know what happened in the first film, but even though I didn't know the entire history, I enjoyed the film. They explained a few of the prior relationships, and as you'd expect, the action sequences were fantastic.

The opening sequence of the film is the one they showed in the trailer, when the gang highjacks a truck pulling tankers of gas. Yeah, ok, so it stretches the imagination - it's still a fabulous scene.

Oh, and the chase sequences through the city were crazy. And all those cars that they banged up! That was even painful for me to watch.

I did manage to figure out who Braga was before the film revealed it, but I didn't figure it out much before that. That dude in the suit just seemed so uncomfortable. And I don't get why O'Conner got blamed for that whole situation going south. It was the asshole co-worker's fault for jumping the gun, before the picture ID came through and before O'Conner signaled.

Paul Walker was good, and I really liked Michelle Rodriguez - she had a much better character than that awful one she had on "Lost". And Vin Diesel is really good as an action hero. Yeah, so he'll never win an Oscar. But he certainly kicks butt.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Obama picked it

Well, the North Carolina Tar Heels won the men's NCAA basketball championship tonight, just as President Obama picked.

And no, I have no idea what a tar heel is, and I'm even too unmotivated to Google it.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

NCAA men's basketball championship game

So the last two teams in the NCAA men's basketball tournament are set, and it's Michigan State and North Carolina who will be competing for the championship.

Michigan State beat Connecticut in the first game on Saturday, and North Carolina beat Villanova in the later game on Saturday.

#1 ranked North Carolina will take on #2 ranked Michigan State in the championship game on Monday night starting at 6:21pm Pacific.

Obama still has a chance to have picked the winning team - his choice for the championship was North Carolina.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Dockside Grill - say goodbye to what was a wonderful restaurant

I have previously written about how wonderful I think Dockside Grill is. Terrific food, nice location, decent prices, good service, great menu. What more could you want? Well, more of the same would have been what I wanted, but that seems to no longer be possible.

The husband and I have been going to Dockside for quite a number of years, and we were last there about a week ago. I noticed the sign outside proclaiming new menu items, but the last time they did that a few years ago, they were mostly minor changes, so I didn't think anything of it.

When we checked in, the husband asked for our favorite server, who happened to be working that night. We were seated in a different section than he normally handles, so I thought maybe they'd just moved him for the night. Then they handed us our menus - and it was completely different than what we'd seen for the years that we'd been going. First of all, the menu itself was a sort of dark aqua color with black print, making the menu fairly difficult to read in the first place. Second, the menu was still printed on the front and back, but I think the entire menu could have easily fit on just one side since everything was written so it was very spaced out.

Our server came by, and we asked him what was going on. He said the new owners had changed the menu, but this was still an interim menu, that they were still finalizing everything. New owners? He then told us that the restaurant had been sold several weeks prior. The restaurant had previously been owned by the company that operates Monterey Bay Canners, and the new owners are the same people who own Damon's Steakhouse.

They have just about decimated the old menu. And in decimating the menu, they have also severely lowered the formerly upscale nature of the restaurant. Previously, Dockside was a decently upscale seafood restaurant with a very nice selection of fish dishes, quite a number of different seafood dishes and a couple of steak options for the non-seafood inclined. With the new menu, it's just a regular boring restaurant with several distinct features that mark the restaurant as being decidedly casual and middle-of-the-road.

The new appetizer menu includes chicken fingers. I'm sorry, but chicken fingers are not something I would ever expect to find on the menu of a nice seafood restaurant. In addition, many of the entrees formerly came with a choice of two sides, from a list of some really good choices. Now, many of the entrees come with french fries and coleslaw. Really.

Gone are the nice combinations of different seafood options. Gone are the plentiful varieties of fresh fish choices. And gone are the nice, interesting desserts, to be replaced by boring, run-of-the-mill, I-can-get-these-anywhere desserts.

Here are the choices on the new appetizer menu - oysters, fried calamari, crab cakes, coconut shrimp, garlic bread, fried zucchini, shrimp skewers, sweet and spicy wings, bbq shrimp quesadilla, steamed clams, chicken fingers and shrimp martini. We had the steamed clams on this visit, and they were still as good as ever. They used to have a sashimi that was quite nice, but that's gone now. I did notice that Damon's Steakhouse also has chicken fingers as well as sweet and spicy wings on their appetizer list. So I guess they decided to bring them over. But chicken fingers on the appetizer menu of a steakhouse? Ummm, ok.

They also have Boston and Manhattan clam chowder, lobster bisque, house salad, caesar salad and several dinner salads. There are also four pasta dishes which include a side salad and bread.

And the formerly nice upscale seafood restaurant now has a variety of burgers and sandwiches that come with french fries and coleslaw. They also have a variety of fried foods - beer battered halibut, coconut shrimp, seafood catch (shrimp, scallops and halibut), scallops - all of which come with french fries and coleslaw. Regular entrees include seafood cioppino, calamari steak, shrimp scampi and crab cakes. They all come with soup or salad, vegetables and one additional side.

They also offer several cuts of steak, various surf and turf items that you can order separately or in combination, and there is a limited fish market.

They do still have the signature Slamfest, though for some reason, they chose to leave it off the menu and just make the servers present it as a "special", but instead of having three different tiers/price levels, depending on what items you wanted, there is only the middle level available now.

I opted for the mahi mahi this time, which was good, but I'll miss the absolutely delicious bluenose seabass and the plethora of fresh fish to choose from on a daily basis.

One thing they have done better is with the vegetables. They used to be sort of sauteed but were always a bit oily. The new version is mostly blanched/boiled.

And for dessert, they used to have the upside down cake and profiteroles and the wonderful tempura banana fritters with the absolutely amazing macadamia nut ice cream. Now, the dessert choices are all run-of-the-mill - chocolate cake, carrot cake, apple pie, mudd pie.

Dockside Grill has been an absolute treasure and one of our favorite restaurants. Everyone that we've introduced to the restaurant has also really loved it. But now, we're sad that the new owners have completely ruined the place. They already own a steakhouse, but instead of simply opening another branch of it, they've decided to come in and destroy a wonderful seafood restaurant. We will definitely not be returning nearly as often as we used to. I may decide to go back if I know I want the Slamfest, and I may decide to venture there on a Friday night just because I want to listen to the band The Subs play in the bar area. But otherwise, when it comes to seafood, I'll be going to Red Lobster more often now. Sadly, Dockside is now no longer a restaurant I can recommend.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Twitter - in plain English

So, yeah, I'm on Twitter, as are a number of my friends, and I've even gotten to know a couple of strangers a bit through Twitter. I'll admit that I didn't get it at first, but as time has gone by, and more people that I know have joined, I've found Twitter to be a lot of fun and a great way to keep in touch with people. But not everyone gets it. And no matter what, some people won't get it. But I found this little video explaining about Twitter. Some people still won't get it or at least won't be interested, but I thought it was a pretty good explanation.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

this would have been perfect to take onto Star Tours

So, yeah, yesterday was April Fool's Day. Someone I follow on Twitter posted a link to a product on thinkgeek (which I love, btw - they have a ton of cool stuff) - tauntaun sleeping bag with intestinal inside lining.

Here's what the sleeping bag itself looks like.

I love that it even comes with a mini lightsabre, you know, to have cut the tauntaun in half so you can crawl inside it.

Here's the full ad for the sleeping bag.

Really cool, huh? Yeah, not real. Totally made up for April Fool's Day. If you clicked on the "BUY NOW" button, here's the page it took you to.

I did like that they also messed with the little tagline right underneath the thinkgeek logo on the top left of the main page. Guess that should have been a clue!

But, APPARENTLY, a ton of people wanted it for real. Later in the day, a friend tweeted that thinkgeek had put up some more information about the "product".

On the Star Tours ride at Disneyland, they always tell you to stow your carry-on in the compartment below your seat. The husband and I, being language geeks, have instead decided that they're actually telling people to stoy their CARRION in the compartment below. Well, in the Star Wars world, the carrion would be your dead tauntaun. So how perfect would it be to bring this sleeping bag on the ride and stow it under your seat?

Yeah, I can see you looking at me that way.

I hope Lucasfilm actually either licenses it or makes it themselves.

Oh, and the Squeez Bacon was pretty funny too! :)

And, speaking of thinkgeek, here are some more spiffy products from them:

I do really need to buy this shirt.

This one is funny, if a bit obvious, and it might not be allowed in some places.

I *love* the concept and execution of this one. Perfect!

Yes, I'm definitely in the club of those wearing this shirt. I'd actually prefer it on a bumper sticker.

This one's just a fun mix of two worlds.

I saw this shirt a little while ago, which would be very relevant.

But now, there's this even more relevant shirt!

This is just a completely brilliant representation, though I will admit that it took me a minute to get it. And it would be highly inappropriate for me to have this in my office at work.

These are cool, but INCREDIBLY expensive.