Thursday, August 20, 2009

Recent "television" watching

We pretty much don't watch TV anymore. Well we dont watch shows on TV. We always end up missing an episode and then fall behind and then give up. Enter Netflix. Never have to wait til the next week, never miss an episode, pause, fast foward . . . tada! I will have to say that we do watch the Food Network (obsessively), Jeopardy! and the occasional Bravo, Style Network or Discovery Channel show. And now we watch Mad Men (because it is available On Demand if we miss an episode) and I hope to start watching Project Runway tonight. But back to my point, we have an entire queue on Netflix devoted to TV. For awhile we were watching the first 3 and a half seasons of Battlestar Galactica so there wasn't much to talk about since I have already presented my arguments for watching and against discussing Battlestar Galactica here.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Seasons 1 (2005) and 2 (2006). This is one of those shows that a bunch of our friends constantly ask "Do you watch It's Always Sunny?" And when we said no they always seemed sad that they couldn't share a love with us. (Arrested Development is another one of those shows) So when we were ready to start a new series, we decided to give it a shot, we figured hey, 2 seasons on 3 disks? Why not? Oh my God! We have totally started asking everyone "Do you watch It's Always Sunny?" It is so good! I have no idea what possessed FX to even air this show. It is so irreverent. It is so ridiculous. There are episode titles like "The Gang Gets Racist" and "Charlie Wants an Abortion" and "Charlie Gets Molested" and "The Gang Goes Jihad" and . . . ok, you get the point. Get yourself a copy of the first 2 seasons. Watch them. Laugh your ass off. Now!

Mad Men Season 2 (2008). Are you serious? Have you not watched this yet? Really? Because honestly, this is one of those things that is going around in a million directions from everyone you know. And it is so totally as good as that. It is. The clothes, the hair, the attitudes towards women, and smoking, and homosexuality and drinking . . . at work. It is totally amazingly excellent. Fantastic and all that. Really. C'mon now. Get on board before it jumps the shark or decides to cancel itself. Really? You don't know what it is about? How is that rock you are living under? Ok, so Mad Men is about Mad Men. Don't know what Mad Men are? They are Madison Avenue Admen from the early 1960's.

Friday Night Lights Seasons 1 (2006) and 2 (2007). This is the show about the Dillon Panthers football team, their coach (played by Kyle Chandler) and their town. I watched this on Netflix Watch Instantly on my new eee on our new TV while Matty was in DC with his parents and then while I was home sick with my sinus infection. The first season had me crying pretty much every episode. And I was PMSing but I dont think it was all that. The second season was not as good. A few things seemed really forced and some plot lines from the first season were totally dropped. I will give Season 3 a chance but I am not really hopeful. But Season 1 is totally totally totally worth watching. I like football in general but Texas high school football (along with a lot about Texas) FREAKS me out and I still recommend it. You have to get used to the camera work. I like it but it is unpopular with a lot of people I think. So check it out. After Mad Men. And It's Always Sunny.

Recent movie watching

As you may have noticed I have a pretty open day today so I am trying to catch up a little bit on reviews at least. So first up are movies.

Last Chance Harvey (2008). The story of a guy, a bit of a sad sack, Harvey (played by Dustin Hoffman) who goes to London for his estranged (?) daughter's wedding only to realize that he is at his "last chance" at changing his life and meets a woman (played by Emma Thompson), a bit of a sad sack herself, who could really use a chance at life as well. It was a very well played adorable movie with some emotional moments. I didn't think it was anything groundbreaking but extremely well done for what it is. I would recommend seeing it, but not rushing it to the top of your list.

C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005). French Canadian film about a gay guy, Zac (played by Marc-André Grondin), growing up in a religious family in the 60s-70s. First off, as a warning, it is subtitled. So if that bothers you, well there you go. Marc-André Grondin (understandably called by some the Canadian Gael García Bernal) is a very nice piece of eye candy. All around good acting, it is a little hard with the language thing to say if everyone is great necessarily. But all around, very well done. The story is engaging (if a little strange at times). I feel like we miss a little bit not actually being French Canadian 40 years ago. Can someone explain ironed toast to me? I would definitely recommend this movie. A good mix of sex, drugs, family drama, religious overtones and David Bowie.

Defiance (2008). The true story of the brothers Bielski (Tuvia played by Daniel Craig, Zus played by Liev Schrieber, Asael played by Jamie Bell and Aron played by George MacKay). They are Jewish and live in Belarussia (Poland) in 1941. Not a great place to be. This is the under appreciated (in my opinion) story of how they survived (and fought back) and formed a community in the forest for 4 years while being constantly hunted by the Germans until they walked out with 1200 other survivors. An absolutely amazing story, extremely well acted. I highly recommend it. Matty only recommends it. I dont know why.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009). We finally went to see this last week. It seems silly for me to review this here. Because you are either going to see it or not see it and what I say about it shouldnt really matter. And if it does matter, then maybe you shouldnt see it. I am not being snooty. Bear with me. Dan said that they are making these movies for people who have read the books at this point. I think that they are making them either for people who have read the books or who have seen the other movies. Which I think is fair. This is number 6 in the series. I dont think they should have to make it understandable to people who havent seen the other 5. There is simply too much to put into these movies as it is without having to play catch up for people who dont know who Ron is at this point. I am not sure if you have to have read the book to enjoy it, because I have read the book so I cant pretend I dont have that knowledge behind me. I think the biggest problems with these movies, and this is something I said as soon as I read the books, is that there is simply too much to these books. There is no way to put everything in a single movie of reasonable length. In fact I think they are having difficulty even putting all the pertinent events that they absolutely must add into a movie of reasonable length. So a lot gets cut. But the stuff that gets cut is really important (maybe not to the major plotline) but to the world of Harry Potter. It is out of necessity but it detracts from the movies over the books. That's my opinion. Obviously, if you have seen the first 5 movies or if you have read the books, go see it. If you haven't then I dont think you should. I dont think you will enjoy it much. I did enjoy it, but not as much as Prisoner of Azkaban or Goblet of Fire. I think there was simply way too much for one movie. I thought the same about Order of the Phoenix (one of my favorite of the books).

Center City Sips Review Week 6 (for us): Ladder 15

Finally up to date. Last night we tried Ladder 15. This is the newest addition to Sansom St in the old firehouse. Specials: $2 Hook & Ladder Pipe & Drum Irish Ale (only downstairs), Blue Moon, Bud Light bottles. $3 Beaulieu Vineyards Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir. $4 Mango Sansom (Parrot Bay Mango, Triple Sec, Pineapple & Orange Juice, splash of cranberry on the rocks) and Cherry Water Ice (Three Olives Cherry, lemonade, served up over Cherry Pop Rocks [yes you read correctly]). $7 Black Truffle Flatbread (fontina, parmigiano reggiano, sea salt). $4.50 Buffalo Style "lollipops" (Drumette Confit, ranch).

When I walked in (at 10 past 5) downstairs was very crowded with no free tables or seats at the bar. Luckily Matty had gone upstairs (shown in the pic) which was empty and we got a booth since we were expecting a few more. The Hook & Ladder was only available downstairs so we both started with Mango Sansoms. Essentially fruit punch with rum. I would say sickeningly sweet but then I had a Cherry Water Ice and realized that that was what sickeningly sweet tasted like. It was like drinking a melted cherry Jolly Rancher. Mixed with pop rocks. Not good, just sweet and fakely cherry. So Matty made a run downstairs for Hook & Ladders. By then it was what I would consider "crowded." The Hook & Ladder is good actually. Though not nearly as much flavor as one would expect from the appearance (very dark ale-like). So we stuck with Blue Moon for the rest of the night in order to avoid moving because between 6 and 7 it went from crowded to frighteningly packed. Like we didnt think we would be able to get to the door if we had wanted to leave. Downstairs was like a frat party - shoulder to shoulder packed. The crowd was decidedly young college kids to dress down professionals. The high ceilings (35 foot) and the enormous crowd made it really hard to hear anything at all. We tried the buffalo "lollipops" which were essentially buffalo wings with the bone scraped to hold, served with ranch. They were good but nothing special. I do not imagine we will be going back. Too young, too loud, drinks are too sweet and prices aren't terribly awesome. We might try it for dinner (the menu looks interesting) but I would much rather go to Nodding Head two doors down I think.

Center City Sips Review Week 5 (for us): APO

It has also been a few weeks since we went here, so bear with me. APO (Apothecary is apparently against PA laws for a bar's name) Bar and Lounge is the new upscale (read fancy pants) cocktail lounge from the same people who brought Philly 1225 Raw Sushi and Sake Lounge. Specials: $2 Victory Prima Pils on draft and Modelo Especial cans (they ran out of the Pils when we were there and substituted Yards Brawler which is Matty's new favorite beer so he was very happy). $3 House red and white. $4 Moscow Mule (vodka, fresh lime juice and gingerbeer); John Collins (bourbon, fresh lemon juice, house seltzer); and something with gin and house grenadine. $5 shrimp shumai, pork gyoza and crispy chicken bites (from Raw).

So this place is WAY out of our range of normal places to hang out. I don't deal with dress codes, $15 cocktails, etiquette rules and complete lack of food. So Sips was our chance to check it out. And it was lovely. We managed to get a table on the roof deck which was beautiful. And the cocktails were all extremely tasty. The Moscow Mule (my choice) was deliciously spicy at the beginning and refreshing all the way through. And the food was very good (especially considering it was being provided by a bar across the street since they do not have a food menu) though it was unfortunate that they did not have a vegetarian option. Would I go back? For Sips maybe. But while my drinks were very good, they were not $15 apiece good. And they only serve food during Sips. And while I am willing to make sure that I am dressed appropriately for a place, I am not willing to get dressed up for it. So probably not outside of Sips.

Center City Sips Review Week 4 (for us): Smokin' Betty's

I know. This is really really really late (we went here sometime mid-July). Sorry! I have been way behind. As a note, all the pics in this post were taken from the yelp page.

Smokin' Betty's is the newest restaurant by the people who brought us Devil's Alley. It has been awhile since we were there and I honestly can't remember all the specials. I tried both of the cocktails on special. One was similar to a bellini - a light ale with peach nectar. And the other, the Paradise Kitty was a tropical drink with rums and mango juice. It is delicious. They do special happy hour editions of their flatbread pizza (changes daily and is usually delicious), cheesesteak springrolls (good but a bit pricey even for happy hour since you only get 1), house smoked wings (an order of 5 - they are awesome!) and veggie quesadilla (which we didnt get).

The menu is very similar to Devil's Alley but the feel is different. It is a much cleaner and larger space. It is 2 floors and the windows open to give it a very open air feel. It caters largely to the Jefferson crowd which is great for Happy Hour because they don't seem to show up until after 5:30 it seems. So if you get there right after 5 it is pretty empty and you have your choice of seats. I really like it. It is a different place so we dont feel like we keep going back to the same place over and over. The food is good and the service for Sips was good considering how crowded it got. Matty went back for Sips again last week and had major service issues so it is something to keep in mind. We went back for dinner on a Tuesday night and service was very good and the place was almost empty (which is a little concerning). That night Matty had the BBQ Sliders - hickory smoked beef brisket, carolina pulled pork, and caribbean pulled served with macaroni salad ($8) and I had the Grilled Chicken & Broccoli Rabe Sandwich - roasted
red pepper, sharp provolone & pesto mayo ($9.25). Both were excellent. The chicken sandwich was a little heavy on the mayo for me, but was really really good. And the sliders were perfect. I am not even sure which one I liked the best. The Sips menu is very similar to the normal everyday happy hour and I would highly recommend for happy hour, Sips (in the one week left) or for dinner.

Monday, August 10, 2009


So my sinus infection is still here. (Yes I know I should give the antibiotics at least a week to work, but I dont wanna!) And still painful and not a huge fan of the humidity at all. The heat index is supposed to be 100 today. So I took the bus. Which is good. Because I was at work (not walking here) in the AC and relatively unsweaty when my father called to tell me that my Nana passed away this morning. So I got to cry at work (which I hate) instead of on the street (which I hate more). And you know what totally helps sinuses? Crying. No. Not really. So, it looks like I am heading to RI for a quick visit this week. Fan-fucking-tastic. I was really hoping to go see her at the end of the month when I head up there for a wedding (her granddaughter's wedding). No one thought it was going to be so fast. But it was quick (most of the family didnt even make it to the hospital in time) and painless (she was on a lot of pain meds). And it wasn't too close to the wedding (almost 3 weeks). But she was like my surrogate grandmother since mine died when I was 4. Ugh. Just ugh.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

New addition to the sidebar and a quick update

So firstly, I want to point your attention to the sidebar over there where there is a new addition. Skivvies and Chives. This is the new blog about everything food by a fellow Philly foodie. Ok, I am not really a foodie. But she is. And we are both in Philly. And the alliteration was nice right? She will be sharing recipes as well as adventures in the kitchen and in urban gardening in our fair city. So show the love and check it out.

Also, for those of you waiting on the edges of your seats to know, the Gallagher visit went remarkably well. I will try to post more later. But really, besides a little traffic issues and weather problems everything went really really well.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Sorry it has been so long. And this isnt going to make up for it. I have a sinus infection. And bronchitis. And I am miserable. I am actually not sure whether I felt better before or after starting the medications I am currently on. I just want to sleep. Or at least lie down. Somewhere quiet. And least I seem to have stopped coughing. But now Matty is coughing. He was up all last night coughing. Which is miserable. And he didnt sleep well the night before because he was in Minneapolis for a work conference. Not that it kept me up. I am pretty sure the pseduoephedrine in my $27 MucinexD did that. And through all of this, has anyone at work even appeared to notice that I left at 10:30 on Monday, wasnt in at all on Tuesday, left at 1 on Wednesday, left at 3 yesterday? Apparently not. Story to sum it all up: Wednesday I had to go to the mouse colony before going to my doctor's appt (yes, I went to see a doctor!). While I was down there I managed to scratch my face. I thought nothing of it. Spent an hour and a half down there. Came up stairs, walked through 2 different building. Rode an elevator with 4 people. Came into lab. Saw all of my lab mates. Packed up all my stuff. Walked 4 blocks to Student Health. Checked in, sat in the waiting room, saw a nurse and then finally a doctor who asked me "What happened to your face?" To which I said "I have no idea." To which she handed me a wet paper towel and some neosporin and told me to wash up while she got some test results because I was bleeding. Bleeding! I scratched myself around 11. It was now 1:30 and finally someone thought to mention that I was bleeding! Ugh. It isnt that bad, just a scratch. But still. No one could have mentioned it to me before then? I am so going home early again. I will try again next week. Hopefully by then I will start to feel better. Hopefully.