Monday, July 30, 2007

The Simpsons Movie - Spider Pig

I went into this weekends premiere of the long awaited Simpsons Movie with mixed emotions. As someone who has watched the Simpsons for free for several years, you would think I would be hesitant to give fox $20 of my hard earned money (had to see it at the Premiere) but that wasn't my biggest concern. My concern would be how to make a movie funny for an hour and a half (basically 4 episodes without commercials) when the show has fallen off the last couple years.
Well the reason the show has fallen off is because they saved all of the good jokes for the movie. The plot fits well into the movie as it is too drawn out to be effective in an episode and if they would have done it over several "to be continued" episodes it would not have been effective. I don't want to get into too many specifics but there were some classic lines and scenes in the movie.
If I were to find a fault in the episode it was Simpsons Family heavy, almost all other characters (no Kang/Kodos and a couple others) were limited to only a couple lines or site gags (Stampy) Of course with hundreds of characters over the years its hard to focus on more than just the Nuclear Family, but some fan favorites could have had bigger parts (Ralph)
As great as the movie was, now I am anxiously awaiting the DVD release with extras, there has to be hours and hours of hysterical footage that just didn't fit in the movie.

Rock the Bells, NYC- July 29, 2007

Every time I go to a concert in a large venue I tell myself "this is the last time". When I saw the lineup for the 2007 Rock the Bells tour I decided I had to go. Wu-Tang, Cypress Hill, Rakim, Public Enemy, a reunited Rage Against the Machine, Pharoahe Monch all being artists I have never been able to see live for various reasons. Technically, at Lollapalooza '93 I heard Rage from the parking lot but traffic and weather kept me from witnessing their set at the festival that year. Also Mos, Kweli, and Erykah Badu were scheduled to appear so I figured it was a can't miss.
Wow, what a complete error in judgement. Let me start with the positives. Wu-Tang was much better than expected. Played mostly old joints, tons of energy especially Meth. Of course Ghostface was a no-show as usual which pissed me off. For no live band accompaniment they were overall satisfying. Cypress Hill was on a whole other level. Maybe it was the second-hand influence but they were amazing live. Muggs' beats are still great, the live percussion adds to it significantly. The crowd was really moving. I would pay to see another Cypress show for sure. Then there was Public Enemy. Hands down the best performers of the day. Live band, as much energy from Chuck as from Flav. Scott Ian from Anthrax came out and perfomed "Bring the Noise" with them. If I could make one complaint it would be that the set was too short because I could have listened to them all day. Well, that and the fact that I had to listen to Professor Griff occasionally rant about some b.s. in between songs.
Now for the complaints. The concert was on Randall's island, a small chunk of land sandwiched between where Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens all meet. The only way on and off the island was to drive (nightmare), ferry (not possible from Manhattan), or special express bus. We went with the bus option and waited in a line for the bus from Harlem for an hour and a half. Could have been worse you say? It was raining. And you weren't allowed to bring umbrellas.
In the meantime, the grounds of the concert were mostly dirt, which therefore meant mud. Wading through the mud with the smell from the Port-o-johns was reminiscent of the Bog of Eternal Stench (Labyrinth reference). Everyone just threw their trash everywhere so it was like being in a landfill. People were complete assholes (of course). I stuffed my face before the concert so I wouldn't have to eat there but my companion did not follow my advice. Thus, we waited in line for 2 HOURS for food. At the end of the line she paid $11 for cheese fries and a hamburger patty (they were out of buns and condiments). I watched the entire PE set and most of the Wu set from the line on smaller-than-expected screens.
Other than that, Erykah flaked and never showed up, Mos was late so Kweli performed solo, then Mos came out later, then they did a few songs together. Their show did not translate well in an outdoor festival but the rain was falling the hardest at that point so maybe that was part of it. I only caught the very end of Monch's set because of the 3 hour commute to the concert although he did have a live band with him and did "The Life" with Styles P on stage as well. We only stayed for 4 Rage songs because tales of getting back to Manhattan from the Saturday show sounded like nightmares and we were not willing to undergo any more disasters that day. They sounded good though. I heard "People of the Sun", "Bulls on Parade", "Guerilla Radio", and "Bombtrack". Once they played "Bombtrack" I was okay with leaving as I had heard one song off the first album which I still maintain stands out in their otherwise excellent catalogue.
Rock the Bells will be my last outdoor music festival. This time I really mean it.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Kige Ramsey picks Bears

Now if only we can get Chris Mortenson not to pick the Bears. I think we got a chance.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

GI Joe Movie

With the huge success of the Transformers Movie, I started to think about a movie for G.I. Joe, apparently for the last few years this has been in talks with Warner Bros, even with Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura being in talks, but thats not likely as he will probably do Transformers 2. The most recent news said it may be a buddy piece, but I think that sucks. I would much rather see an ensemble cast. I would make it into a comedy/action movie starring the Frat Pack, written/directed/produced by Wes Anderson/Adam McKay.

I think with this cast below the movie writes itself. G.I.Joe was disbanded in the late 90s as their action figures were not selling well. Cobra Commander has kept in touch with Duke playing golf together on the weekends (Cobra Commander in his mask)(Opening scene of the movie). But now in the present day there is a drug lord/terrorist who has kidnapped the head of the Secretary of Defense's Mistress (because of the delicate nature of this, conventional Special Forces can not be used) , so Cobra Commander and Duke have to get their teams together for one last mission, but this time as allies.

The first 1/4 of the movie could be tracking down every member of the group, then training to get back into shape and the infighting between the groups. Then the dramatic over the top fight scenes and dramatic takedown of the drug lord and the rescue of the Mistress of the Secretary of Defense Imagine a much less serious version of Uncommon Valor but for the most part a direct remake of it.

Duke- Will Ferrell
Flint-Vince Vaughn
Scarlett- Amy Adams
Cobra Commander- Will Ferrell
Destro- Jack Black
Snake Eyes- Steve Carrell
Gung Ho- David Koechner
Lady Jaye- Christine Taylor

Falcon- John C. Reilly
Tomax-Owen Wilson
Xamot- Luke Wilson
Storm Shadow-Steve Carell
Roadblock-Paul Rudd
Wild Bill- Ben Stiller
Rachel McAdams

Sunday, July 15, 2007

My first Broadway show (on Broadway)

I'm not much of a musical fan. I tolerate them okay but they always seemed just too fake and cheesy. Les Miserables bored the crap out of me. I thought Miss Saigon was decent but it had pimps, prostitutes and a giant helicopter. Lion King had great performances but was hokey. Spamalot was a disappointment and not that funny (IMO). I saw all of these in Chicago.

Since it was P's 30th birthday she wanted to go see a Broadway play, on Broadway. Wicked was sold out for weeks so I thought a show we would both enjoy would be The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. It's a musical but the emphasis is the comedy. It's done in a small theater that they converted to look just like a school gymnasium. There's crowd participation. The show uses the entire theater for the performance. It was outstanding. Darrell Hammond joined the cast as the Vice Principal and he was also excellent. Dead pan delivery of some great material. I'm a big fan of his and seeing him in action literally 3 feet from my face was worth the price of admission alone.

This play will go on to other theaters in the country as part of a tour and also is a regular show in Chicago. It really needs to be in a small theater designed to have the audience actually be part of the stage. I highly recommend it even if you hate musicals. In fact, it's a great choice if you don't like them but want to take someone who does. It will not disappoint.

The Hot Dog Post Part II

Well, we decided to give it another try. In Madison Square Park there is a place we found called the "Shake Shack". Their menu includes a "Chicago Dog" as well as a "Second City Chick-wurst". Let's start with the latter. They take a chicken and apple sausage and add chicago hot dog toppings to it. First of all, no self-respecting Chicago dog and burger joint would ever serve chicken and apple sausage. Second of all, you put those toppings on a hot dog and that's it. Other sausages get topped differently.

I didn't get one anyway so let's move on. I got a Chicago dog which cost $3.25, no fries included. To the credit of Shake Shack, the hot dog tasted decent. It was boiled (correct) and was kosher all-beef (advertised as Vienna) but was small in length and circumference. I am convinced that Vienna has special hot dogs that they only sell to Chicagoland hot dog places, some internet research supports this theory.

They had the correct toppings (cucumber, sport peppers, tomato, onion, relish, pickle, mustard, celery salt). However, it was a cucumber spear instead of slices, you had to search for the relish, and the pickle and tomatoes were sliced wrong as well. That being said, the sport peppers were excellent. Overall it was a 7/10 for a hot dog outside of Chicagoland. If you served it in Chicago you would get lynched.

BTW, in case you were wondering the fries were excellent and the shake was unbelievably good. Probably the best ever but cost $5.25 which is ridiculous. The line was very long which we thought could be attributed to the fact that it was a Saturday in the summer but it's apparently popular year-round. They even have a webcam to see how long the line is before you leave your apartment.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Slurpee Day

Tomorrow is officially the Birthday of Slurpee. In honor of this momentous event 7-Eleven is giving away free Slurpees. They actually do this every year on July 11th (7/11) it is while little mini 7.11 oz cups are available. While you are there remember that the Simpsons Movie comes out in a few short weeks and you actually are having a Squishee as part of a great tie in with movie. There are actually some 7-elevens that have been completely transformed into Kwik E Marts.
I have been having Slurpees for years and over the last couple months have again starting having them on a frequent basis, there is nothing quite like the refreshing Kosher beverage. I prefer to mix two or three flavors including Mountain Dew, Cherry and then whatever the best flavor otherwise is available (never Coke or Pepsi) lately its been Blue WOO-HOO Vanilla (Simpsons Movie tie in flavor).
Here are some interesting Slurpee facts. I don't feel like referencing them all but that can be done on a google search i am sure.
  • Ave Slurpee drinker is 29yrs old
  • Top 5 Slurpees cities are all in Canada
  • Slurpees served at 28F
  • Since Introduction 6 Billion have been sold
  • 11.6 million drinks consumed a month
  • ICEEs suck and are not acceptable as a substitute
  • Here is a link to Buy one Get one Free Coupon

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Hot Dog Post

Well, after a brief hiatus I'm back. Certainly, I wanted my first post to be about my new home in Manhattan. After a brief time here I knew that it would have to focus on food. While Chicago is certainly known for its food, NYC is generally regarded as the best of the best. While 2 weeks in the Big Apple is certainly not enough time to make a final judgement, I'd like to make a few early observances.

First of all, we moved to the Upper West Side which has rendered watching reruns of Seinfeld a whole new experience. So far, our cuinary experience has been less than satisfactory. Let's remove the whole price issue (not an easy aspect to ignore) because that would be unfair. Clearly, New York is super expensive, even in comparison to Chicago. It is hard to not get angry when you pay $20 for you and your fiancee to each get a sandwich and something to drink and the sandwich couldn't hold a Potbelly's Wreck's jock. I used to get a Wreck, chips, and a chocolate shake for $8. Surprisingly, for that same price in NYC you can get a really crappy panini and that's it.

Let's move on. Perhaps the problem is the restaurants that the UWS has to offer. That may be. We went to Taboon in Hell's Kitchen last Monday and each had an excellent Halibut (although expensive). So, again, way too early to make a final judgement on NY dining. But...

What's the ultimate test? Not the pricey, top of the line restaurants in my opinion. I'm sure Nobu is great as are all the famous super-expensive restaurants. But what about the ultimate average guy's meal? The hot dog? Well, we are "lucky" in that we live just a few blocks away from what the majority of New Yorkers vote as the "#1 hot dog in NYC". Gray's Papaya.

Today I had the "Recession Special" which is 2 dogs and a drink for $3.50. If you, like me, are from Chicago, you may want to make sure you're sitting down for this next part. Their hot dogs come topped with brown mustard (ok), sauerkraut (umm...), and cooked onions covered in BBQ sauce (WTF?)!!! Seriously, I know I'm biased but who are the ad wizards that came up with this campaign? The dog itself tasted okay. It was certainly edible, way better than an Oscar Mayer dog or the pork crap you get at a baseball game if you don't get them from the one Hebrew National stand in the corner. But compared to a real Chicago dog? Not even close.

I know there will be those that disagree. If you put ketchup on your hot dog then I am wasting your time anyway with this post as we clearly come from 2 different worlds, yours being the one where an opinion on food carries no merit.

So far, I have concluded that while New Yorkers may indeed have their finger on the pulse of fine dining, that when it comes to real food, the food of the common man, New Yorkers simply have no clue.

More to come...

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Transformers Movie Review

WOW, i mean wow, it more than lived up to the hype that I had put on it. The CGI was amazing, my little brother was concerned that the Transformer did not make the same sound as in the cartoon, but it was close in fact it was updated more modern and better. Transformers was summer blockbuster cheesiness at its finest. Great Action, again fantastic CGI, superficial characters, glaring plot holes, half ass attempt at a love story and some good one liners. It was one of the better movies I have seen in a long time and will definitely be seeing it again.