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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

Wow, has it really been almost 4 years since my last ramen review? So much for this being the annual post I’d intended. But I had intentions, yes! Here are the pictures and notes that have been sitting on my computer all last year to prove it. While I have tried to eat healthier over the...

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

Like almost everybody else who has had to shop for their own groceries throughout their university years, I’m on very friendly terms with instant ramen noodles. Living in Southern California, however, we had a wider selection in this category than the rest of the country. The Japanese, Chinese, and Southeast Asian stores would all import their own home-grown brands, often in awesome random flavors with no English translation. They were invariably authentic, despite being, essentially, packets of dried noodles with MSG powder. There were also the American varieties, of course, which tended towards the saltier side of things but were flavorful enough in a pinch. I had a ramen craving late last fall and bought several packets to try out. These are my very biased reactions as a noodle-loving Asian-American living in a Northern European country where East Asian food of any variety has not made that much headway yet. They are here mostly to remind myself for future shopping trips, and also so you can see what happens when I’m too lazy to cook.

Blue Dragon is an UK-based purveyor of Western-made Eastern condiments and food staples. I’ve tried several different items in their range, since they seem to be the most commonly stocked line at most of our supermarkets. These items have varied from very decent to shockingly bland — enough inconsistency to make it necessary to have notes to refer to when shopping. And, as you can see, one of my favorite ways of having ramen is with 2 poached eggs and some veggies in the broth.

The first one up was Blue Dragon’s 3-minute Noodles in Chow Mein flavor. Now, when I bought this, I was slightly puzzled as to what that exactly meant, since chow mein translates to “fried noodles” and that doesn’t really specify any flavor, other than perhaps soy sauce and oil. So in that regard, I guess I shouldn’t have been entirely surprised when it ended up tasting exactly like plain unflavored ramen, despite my having added in the packet of mysterious brown powder it came with. I guess I should be glad it wasn’t overly salty, but I was mostly just confused. There was a bit of an artificial smell while it was cooking, but I couldn’t tell if that was due to the noodles or the bit of melted plastic that was left on the burner from when T boiled his new floorball stick in one of my pots to shape it. Oh, confusion. This is not an offending flavor, but it is highly forgettable and really needs something more added to the bowl to give the dish any sort of personality.

Next up was Blue Dragon’s 3-Minute Noodles in Crispy Duck flavor. This one definitely had a stronger taste, though whether that was supposed to be duck or something else was somewhat hard to tell. It was some sort of meat byproduct. There was also a bit of an aftertaste reminiscent of duck skin, so I suppose that makes this something of a success. After tasting the broth on its own, I did add a few bits of Finnish bacon (less fat) to the mix, so the end result was actually rather tasty.

The last offering from Blue Dragon was their 3-Minute Noodles in Won Ton flavor. This one had a more pronounced taste than the first packet, but less than the duck flavor. It was like the watery essence of pork wonton, I suppose. I went on the offensive this time after just a brief broth tasting, and added a couple dashes of soy sauce and sesame oil, then topping everything with the crunchy bits left over from some of  my old udon packets. The end result was very satisfying. Yay!

My final take on this particular brand? It’s not really worth getting the “flavored” pre-packaged noodles. It probably *would* be worth getting the plain unflavored noodles that they also carry and then flavoring it myself with a mix of homemade soup stocks and spice blends. Has to be healthier than powdered preservative packages.

This one was a pleasant surprise — our local market also carries a few varieties of Mama Noodles, an actual Thai brand. They stock mostly the “safe” flavors (chicken, shrimp, etc) but also have Shrimp Cream Tom Yum Flavor, which I was very quick to grab. Tom yum of any sort always scores high on my list of favorite soups, so it was a no brainer. I got the “jumbo” packet, which came with a very healthy portion of noodles. I decided to toss in a can of crab meat with this particular batch, and it definitely added to the seafoody flavor. I’ve also added frozen prawns to this stuff before and that worked out even better. This brand comes with a few different flavorings that can be used together, separately, or in different proportions — besides the standard powdered flavoring mix, it also gives you two plastic envelopes — one with chili oil and one with a flavor paste. I usually go light on the chili since I’m a spice wimp, but use all of the other two packets. The result is a strong-tasting soup that definitely echoes “real” tom yum. As one reviewer said, it will do in a pinch, and I’d say living in the land of no Asian restaurants definitely falls into the “pinch” category. This stuff made me happy after the several mediocre encounters with other ramens last year and it is still something I like to pick up when I need a quick noodle fix.

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Fashion and Costumery. Please leave any comments there.

ewww.

Just tried a sample of Thierry Mugler’s _Angel_ that came in the mail with my previous Sephora order. Mostly because I thought it’d be amusing — if it was any good — to have a bottle of perfume on my dresser that had my name (well, I’d have to Sharpie in an additional letter, but nothing’s perfect) on it.

Unfortunately, I went reeling backward after one small spritz on the arm and then bolted to the sink to scrub it off with liberal dollops of strongly-scented antibacterial soap, endeavoring to erase the olfactory menace burning itself into my skin. Remember those five-year-old Christmas candles that you see in bulk clearance at Big Lots, a dozen tapers for $1? Yeah, that’s about what this stuff reminded me of.

It’s calling itself an “oriental gourmand” scent, which I guess explains the patchouli (and confused me as to whether it was actually a mens’ cologne on first sniff). Other than that, I can’t really classify anything else in the ingredients as distinctly “oriental” — at least in the sense that I’d find a representation in my parents’ kitchen. Oh, confusion. The list of participants includes chemical-created aromas helional and hedione (contributing to the cloying nature, I’m sure), western baking favorites such as vanilla, chocolate and caramel and smatterings of “honey, dewberry and red berries” that were far too overpowered by the other ingredients to even be recognizable. I’m guessing this one’s meant strictly to attract dudes, in that way where it’s strong enough for them to notice and makes them hungry enough to consider whether or not you’d be a candidate to bake for them over the holidays. Then again, you’d get the same sort of scent combination on a visit to grandma’s place, and I’m not sure I’d want any date-potential candidate calling memories of that place “sensual and passionate”…

Anyway, I ended up spraying the rest of it in the storage room, figuring it’d at least be good at scaring off moths. I’m nothing if not an optimist.

pierydys: (Default)

Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Fashion and Costumery. Please leave any comments there.

Usually when a product develops a cult following, one can’t help but be suspicious of it. This is especially the case when Oprah starts recommending it, because although I liked the big O back in her young and sassy days, this new taking-over-the-world version kinda frightens me. Like Scientology.

Hey, at least I don’t have to feel like I’m pimping or hawking this stuff, since it’s already made the “top 10″ lists of countless magazines, stores, and other sources over the years. I’m merely adding my own little review to the mix.

Luckily, I first encountered the Philosophy brand back in 2000 or so, when Mimesere picked up a tub of their Hope in a Jar moisturizer on a whim. Knew nothing about the brand, just that it was really fun to play with. It was all translucent and whipped and fluffy and you couldn’t feel it seconds after putting it on. I might have accounted for half the usage of that tub over the next month, and probably should send her a thank-you gift certificate one of these days.

I managed to inherit the most bizarre combination skin from my mother (dry and extremely sensitive to most products) and my father (oily within a couple hours of washing), so finding something that would moisturize without leaving my face like the Exxon Valdez has been a long, hard journey. One fraught with peril, even, as the girls at my local Sephora can relate from the multiple times I came in to return an item with a face looking so red and blotchy that they’d give me free jumbo samples of soothing toners in frantic apology. This stuff was apparently developed for use on what I would assume is very tender post-surgical skin, so is quite gentle while doing all that it’s supposed to be doing in the hydrating and exfoliating departments.

So yeah, very addicted to it. Started out buying it in 2 oz. tubs, have now upgraded to the 4 oz. version so that I don’t run out as often, and have even been considering the ginormous 8 oz. one for my next order. Not that it needs constant application — I only use it once in the morning and once at night. Just wee dabs on the cheeks and forehead, since it spreads lightly and easily to cover everything. However, its unscented frothiness appealed to the boy for aftershave purposes a little more than a year ago, so it’s been running out faster with both of us dipping into it on a frequent basis.

It’s not cheap ($60 for the 4 oz. tub) but that thing will probably last us at least three months so it’s not overly pricey either. Given the problems I’ve had with finding something in the past, it’s a very reasonable price to pay for the security of knowing I won’t look like I stumbled face-first into a hornet’s nest after applying it.

And speaking of beauty products that both of us can use, we also have a hefty 16 oz. bottle of their facial cleanser, Purity Made Simple, as well. It’s a soap, makeup remover, and toner, the website says. While I use it for all these purposes, the boy just knows that it’s the nice-smelling soap you use sparingly and only for your face. Combined with the occasional apricot scrub, I must say that his complexion has become quite excellent in the past year.

Dear Philosophy,

I confess, your referring to yourself as a “lifestyle brand” scares me with its new age-y all-encompassing frouffy commercialism. However, the fact that your skin care products really kick ass cannot be overlooked, so I suppose I’ll have to love you regardless.

Sincerely,

Conflicted in OC.

pierydys: (blackwhite)
Hmm. Just finished watching the Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice and am feeling very ambivalent about it. Which I knew would be the case from the moment I heard they were going to be making it a few years back. I'm very devoted to the 1995 BBC miniseries, which was not only true to the spirit and dialogue of the book, but also had the time and scope to give a very long book the coverage it deserved. This was obviously not possible in a 2-hour Hollywood film, so I was just crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. The end result still feels very fast-paced, where we can kinda get character's reasons and motives, but suspect that a lot of conversations and meetings went on in the backstory when the camera wasn't on them.

Costume-wise, I did like how the Bennets were very obviously years behind all the fashionable people. Not just in fabrics and trims, like in some other films, but in the actual cuts of their garments. Though now that I think about it, the girls probably would have altered and updated hand-me-downs themselves if they were in any way fashionably inclined, so the fact that this Lizzie let her dresses look as old-fashioned as they did should be taken as yet another sign of her "unconventional" nature. Kind of like the way hipsters shop in thrift stores, only without the emo soundtrack. Huh. That's true on more levels that I originally meant it to be. Keira's Lizzie was very broody, internal and prone to fits of "artistically expressive" outbursts. Jennifer Ehle's Lizzie was more vivacious, personable, and took much better care of her hair ;-) Both interpretations work, I suppose. I still do prefer Ehle's rosy-cheeked, well-fed, down-home prettiness to Knightley's doe-eyed, jutting-clavicled, fashionably gaunt sort of look. It's slightly more believable in a girl of good country stock, and does fill out the pretty dresses so much better. (And this is coming from a Keira fan, I might add.)

And on a side note? What the hell was Caroline Bingley wearing at her own ball? The same Caroline who was supposed to be the height of fashion and always with the most proper facade? Because it looked like she forgot to put on the top half of her dress and had just walked out in her skivvies. For shame, wardrobe people, for shame! True, there was the rare and occasional sleeveless gown around at the beginning of the period. And true, the dresses in the Regency got pretty scanty, I'll admit, but putting her in a nearly strapless, almost unembellished gown was really uncalled for. Even if the character was a conniving ho. *cough* Anyways.

The film itself was trying very hard to proclaim itself as "THE BIG SCREEN ADAPTATION!" All the actors were pretty. Too pretty, I would say. Mary was a cute round-faced girl whose only concession to the geeky, gawky, even homely Mary of the book was her choice of darkly-hued attire. The same people also seemed to think that the only thing needed to signify Miss de Bourg's sickliness was to give her a black gown and glasses. (By which reasoning I should be on my deathbed this very minute.) Mr. Collins (PotC:AWE's Tom Hollander) was halfway cute and you almost felt sorry for him, which is something nobody should be thinking at any point in a normal reading of the story. Wickham was an Orlando Bloom clone and the only reason poor Charlotte Lucas looked plain was because she was tossed into a pile of teeth-whitened starlets.

Then there were all the moments of grand cinematography, strange transitions, odd lens tricks and assorted other aesthetic choices that would startle me just as I was getting into the story. All very pretty and well-done in their own right, but somehow besides the point. At its core, the story is about a small group of interconnected people having internal struggles in a series of small rooms. It was written in the corner of a crowded family parlor by a girl whose world consisted of confined spaces, small joys, and quiet gossip. The sweeping vistas, swelling musical score and constant weather effects (unless they were taking advantage of local weather. then good on them.) that leave the heroine flatteringly drenched and waif-like, floating ethereally in a sea of verdant countryside? And which seem to happen in just about every other scene? Sort of extraneous. Really. Like the articles in a paper bagged magazine. (Only, erm. Not. The opposite, really. Metaphorically.) I'd rather have had a nice chunk of character development, yo.

So yeah. That's all I can think of right now, but I felt I needed to get that off my chest. I wanted to like it. I wanted to very badly. But the best I can say is, "Huh. There it is." with the occasional "Oooh, pretty!" thrown in. I think I'm going to have to rent the miniseries and Bride and Prejudice now to get my head back in a good place with this book. Sigh.
pierydys: (Default)

Mirrored from The Velvet Kerfuffle.

Hmm. Just finished watching the Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice and am feeling very ambivalent about it. Which I knew would be the case from the moment I heard they were going to be making it a few years back. I’m very devoted to the 1995 BBC miniseries, which was not only true to the spirit and dialogue of the book, but also had the time and scope to give a very long book the coverage it deserved. This was obviously not possible in a 2-hour Hollywood film, so I was just crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. The end result still feels very fast-paced, where we can kinda get character’s reasons and motives, but suspect that a lot of conversations and meetings went on in the backstory when the camera wasn’t on them.

Costume-wise, I did like how the Bennets were very obviously years behind all the fashionable people. Not just in fabrics and trims, like in some other films, but in the actual cuts of their garments. Though now that I think about it, the girls probably would have altered and updated hand-me-downs themselves if they were in any way fashionably inclined, so the fact that this Lizzie let her dresses look as old-fashioned as they did should be taken as yet another sign of her “unconventional” nature. Kind of like the way hipsters shop in thrift stores, only without the emo soundtrack. Huh. That’s true on more levels that I originally meant it to be. Keira’s Lizzie was very broody, internal and prone to fits of “artistically expressive” outbursts. Jennifer Ehle’s Lizzie was more vivacious, personable, and took much better care of her hair ;-) Both interpretations work, I suppose. I still do prefer Ehle’s rosy-cheeked, well-fed, down-home prettiness to Knightley’s doe-eyed, jutting-clavicled, fashionably gaunt sort of look. It’s slightly more believable in a girl of good country stock, and does fill out the pretty dresses so much better. (And this is coming from a Keira fan, I might add.)

And on a side note? What the hell was Caroline Bingley wearing at her own ball? The same Caroline who was supposed to be the height of fashion and always with the most proper facade? Because it looked like she forgot to put on the top half of her dress and had just walked out in her skivvies. For shame, wardrobe people, for shame! True, there was the rare and occasional sleeveless gown around at the beginning of the period. And true, the dresses in the Regency got pretty scanty, I’ll admit, but putting her in a nearly strapless, almost unembellished gown was really uncalled for. Even if the character was a conniving ho. *cough* Anyways.

The film itself was trying very hard to proclaim itself as “THE BIG SCREEN ADAPTATION!” All the actors were pretty. Too pretty, I would say. Mary was a cute round-faced girl whose only concession to the geeky, gawky, even homely Mary of the book was her choice of darkly-hued attire. The same people also seemed to think that the only thing needed to signify Miss de Bourg’s sickliness was to give her a black gown and glasses. (By which reasoning I should be on my deathbed this very minute.) Mr. Collins (PotC:AWE‘s Tom Hollander) was halfway cute and you almost felt sorry for him, which is something nobody should be thinking at any point in a normal reading of the story. Wickham was an Orlando Bloom clone and the only reason poor Charlotte Lucas looked plain was because she was tossed into a pile of teeth-whitened starlets.

Then there were all the moments of grand cinematography, strange transitions, odd lens tricks and assorted other aesthetic choices that would startle me just as I was getting into the story. All very pretty and well-done in their own right, but somehow besides the point. At its core, the story is about a small group of interconnected people having internal struggles in a series of small rooms. It was written in the corner of a crowded family parlor by a girl whose world consisted of confined spaces, small joys, and quiet gossip. The sweeping vistas, swelling musical score and constant weather effects (unless they were taking advantage of local weather. then good on them.) that leave the heroine flatteringly drenched and waif-like, floating ethereally in a sea of verdant countryside? And which seem to happen in just about every other scene? Sort of extraneous. Really. Like the articles in a paper bagged magazine. (Only, erm. Not. The opposite, really. Metaphorically.) I’d rather have had a nice chunk of character development, yo.

So yeah. That’s all I can think of right now, but I felt I needed to get that off my chest. I wanted to like it. I wanted to very badly. But the best I can say is, “Huh. There it is.” with the occasional “Oooh, pretty!” thrown in. I think I’m going to have to rent the miniseries and Bride and Prejudice now to get my head back in a good place with this book. Sigh.

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Just got back from seeing Last Legion with T. Because honestly, when was the last sword-and-sandal action flick that I didn't see? It's summer and I'm pretty easy to lure to the theaters. Besides, I heart Aishwarya Rai very much, even if her role is mostly gratuitous eye candy.

And, erm, behind the cut in case there are any other people considering seeing it. )
pierydys: (Default)

Mirrored from The Velvet Kerfuffle.

Just got back from seeing Last Legion with T. Because honestly, when was the last sword-and-sandal action flick that I didn’t see? It’s summer and I’m pretty easy to lure to the theaters. Besides, I heart Aishwarya Rai very much, even if her role is mostly gratuitous eye candy.


So yeah, you know those end-of-the-summer flicks that are usually better on video than on the big screen? This was probably one of them. In fact, I’m sure that it would have been a pretty cool made-for-TV-movie. Because it certainly felt as if that was about how much of a budget they managed to procure for it. Then again, judging by the mostly European talent and crew pool, they were probably paying a lot less on the vanity salary front. I’m guessing, what, $60mill or so? Most epics that heavy on locations, costumes, teeming masses of extras and CGI should be getting at least double that. They got their money’s worth on props and locations, true, but I dare you not to wince at the plastic Viking helmets on those poor Goth extras. I’d hurl myself off a stone precipice too, buddy.

But no, really, as far as summer movie plots and writing go, it wasn’t that bad. Given, it wasn’t anything brilliant or new, but I’ve pretty much covered how I mostly go to these things for fluffy entertainment. There were some disturbing flashbacks to King Arthur (another enjoyably rompy-yet-shallow flick in the same category, though with a much better budget), but I was even willing to let that go given they were in the same genre and couldn’t help having some coincidences.

What REALLY irked me, however, was the score. This was what probably was screaming TV MOVIE! the loudest, and there is really no forgiving that. The swelling violins that almost strangled you with “THIS IS AN EMOTIONAL SCENE, DAMMIT!” and the leitmotif that would not die… it was probably supposed to signal “the Truth” and how patriotically faithful the Romans were, but really it just sounded eerily similar to the first half of “It’s a Small World”. Which brings a whole new layer of interpretation and irony, I’m sure. But when that’s repeated ad nauseam at every supposedly uplifting moment… *facepalm* Symphonic suicide, yo.

So my final tally? Aishwarya Rai: still smokin’ hot, especially with shiny weapons. CGI: could use some work, but might be believable on the small screen. Score: It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears. Definitely a wait-and-rent.

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pierydys: (rideon)
So. Spidey 3. Saw it last night. Yes, it was cheese. Huge cheese. And sure, the acting, lines and plot were... well, comic. But then, who ever accused the last two of being high art?

Okay, I suppose I should back up a bit. After reading various reviews on LJ over the weekend, I was a bit apprehensive about going to the showing we had purchased tickets for Sunday evening. In IMAX. Because if it was going to be head-poundingly bad on a regular screen, what unknowable pain were we signing ourselves up for in large format? Like in most cases, the worries outweighed the cause. I was amused by the movie. I had no urge to storm out in disgust, though a good portion was spent trying not to giggle. It was a cheesy summer action flick. It had chases and explosions, villains and spandex, CGI and random dance sequences. This was all I really expected, and I was not sorry when I left the theater.

Which leaves me with the puzzlement of what all the fuss was about? Given, I was seeing it from nearly the front row in IMAX, which meant that we were so busy moving our heads back and forth to keep up with the screen that brain function might have been reduced by the accompanying whiplash. Given, I've never been a huge follower of the book series, so mostly remember it from re-runs of bad television. Given, I'm actually rather fond of cheese a good portion of the time. Given, I've been out of fandom for quite some time and even when I was at the pinnacle of geekiness, I was never really part of the Raimi/comics cults in quite the way many of my friends were. But from what I remember, that was all about the cheese as well.

Y'see, I refused to see the first film back when it came out because I'd heard of a few lines of dialogue and was horrified that the poor actors had to deliver them with straight faces. After I reconciled myself to the cheese, though, I went back and watched it to find that it was rather entertaining. As was the second one, which also bordered on farce most of the time. This third one was simply a case of what must follow. The mating of Velveeta and Kraft Singles does not produce a camembert.

Having already made peace with myself on this count, I was able to concentrate on more important things through the next two hours plus. Like my embarrassed guilt over finding Emo!Peter rather hot. I'm a sucker for eyeliner, y'all know that. And the snazzy new clothes that actually fit him didn't exactly detract either. Sadly, I cannot say the same about what the costume department were thinking when they clothed MJ. (Something which I feel quite bad about saying, by the way, since I actually met these very nice designers a few months back, whilst wandering the labyrinthine basements of Sony Production trying to locate a non-existent office. They were kind enough to draw me a map back out, and to the place that I was looking for, hence averting the disaster that would have befallen -- both to myself and the production I was working on -- if I'd been stuck down there for the rest of my life, living off of discarded scraps of lunch bagels from passing studio goons.)

So yes, I am sorry to say that MJ's wardrobe was rather lackluster. And not in the shabby chic "I shop at vintage stores along Melrose" way of the past two, but in an ill-fitting "I just found these in my grandmother's closet and can't afford to get them altered" sort of way. No, seriously, I couldn't take my eyes off the armpit pudge that was magnified to IMAX proportions in front of me during the entire dinner proposal scene. It was rather horrific. And most of those skirts were just making her look so much more hippy than I know for a fact she is. And not the 60's flowerchild sort of hippy, but the "I can bear 12 children and still plow the fields before dinnertime" sort of hippy. Gack. Let's not even have conjecture over what era Gwen and her Spice Girl model friends were teleported from for that office building photo shoot. *facepalm*

So in conclusion... Spidey 1: Velveeta. Spidey 2: Kraft Singles. Spidey 3: Cheese in a can. All overly-processed, kinda gummy and go quite well with those questionable movie nachos that your stomach is always sorry you bought the next morning. Welcome back, summer movie season.
pierydys: (Default)

Mirrored from The Velvet Kerfuffle.

So. Spidey 3. Saw it last night. Yes, it was cheese. Huge cheese. And sure, the acting, lines and plot were… well, comic. But then, who ever accused the last two of being high art?

Okay, I suppose I should back up a bit. After reading various reviews on LJ over the weekend, I was a bit apprehensive about going to the showing we had purchased tickets for Sunday evening. In IMAX. Because if it was going to be head-poundingly bad on a regular screen, what unknowable pain were we signing ourselves up for in large format? Like in most cases, the worries outweighed the cause. I was amused by the movie. I had no urge to storm out in disgust, though a good portion was spent trying not to giggle. It was a cheesy summer action flick. It had chases and explosions, villains and spandex, CGI and random dance sequences. This was all I really expected, and I was not sorry when I left the theater.

Which leaves me with the puzzlement of what all the fuss was about? Given, I was seeing it from nearly the front row in IMAX, which meant that we were so busy moving our heads back and forth to keep up with the screen that brain function might have been reduced by the accompanying whiplash. Given, I’ve never been a huge follower of the book series, so mostly remember it from re-runs of bad television. Given, I’m actually rather fond of cheese a good portion of the time. Given, I’ve been out of fandom for quite some time and even when I was at the pinnacle of geekiness, I was never really part of the Raimi/comics cults in quite the way many of my friends were. But from what I remember, that was all about the cheese as well.

Y’see, I refused to see the first film back when it came out because I’d heard of a few lines of dialogue and was horrified that the poor actors had to deliver them with straight faces. After I reconciled myself to the cheese, though, I went back and watched it to find that it was rather entertaining. As was the second one, which also bordered on farce most of the time. This third one was simply a case of what must follow. The mating of Velveeta and Kraft Singles does not produce a camembert.

Having already made peace with myself on this count, I was able to concentrate on more important things through the next two hours plus. Like my embarrassed guilt over finding Emo!Peter rather hot. I’m a sucker for eyeliner, y’all know that. And the snazzy new clothes that actually fit him didn’t exactly detract either. Sadly, I cannot say the same about what the costume department were thinking when they clothed MJ. (Something which I feel quite bad about saying, by the way, since I actually met these very nice designers a few months back, whilst wandering the labyrinthine basements of Sony Production trying to locate a non-existent office. They were kind enough to draw me a map back out, and to the place that I was looking for, hence averting the disaster that would have befallen — both to myself and the production I was working on — if I’d been stuck down there for the rest of my life, living off of discarded scraps of lunch bagels from passing studio goons.)

So yes, I am sorry to say that MJ’s wardrobe was rather lackluster. And not in the shabby chic “I shop at vintage stores along Melrose” way of the past two, but in an ill-fitting “I just found these in my grandmother’s closet and can’t afford to get them altered” sort of way. No, seriously, I couldn’t take my eyes off the armpit pudge that was magnified to IMAX proportions in front of me during the entire dinner proposal scene. It was rather horrific. And most of those skirts were just making her look so much more hippy than I know for a fact she is. And not the 60′s flowerchild sort of hippy, but the “I can bear 12 children and still plow the fields before dinnertime” sort of hippy. Gack. Let’s not even have conjecture over what era Gwen and her Spice Girl model friends were teleported from for that office building photo shoot. *facepalm*

So in conclusion… Spidey 1: Velveeta. Spidey 2: Kraft Singles. Spidey 3: Cheese in a can. All overly-processed, kinda gummy and go quite well with those questionable movie nachos that your stomach is always sorry you bought the next morning. Welcome back, summer movie season.

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Hoo. All right, so most of you that know me know that I've been involved in vampire fandoms for a pretty long time. It's where I started and I still keep a pretty close watch on where various threads of it are going, even if I no longer actively participate. So you'd think that I'd be all over this latest segment in my Queer Theory class, where we get to analyze minority distinctions (read: queer and not white) in readings of the undead. And to a certain extent, I am. But more on a meta level, because the text that the professor gave us to work with is, erm, less than engaging.

Anybody read it? _The Gilda Stories_. Lesbian minority vampires. I went in giving it more of a chance than I would many things, based on that premise alone. However, the prose is grating and the schizophrenic, incessant POV jerking makes me want to stomp on the thing. Also, it reads at times more like straight-out propaganda than a novel. While I'm all for having an agenda (ha! y'think?), I don't appreciate those who don't take the time to present it in a manner respectful to the medium. I realize it isn't a huge sub-genre, so my professor probably did the best he could, but still. I find myself hoping that he seriously didn't think this was actually a literary work or whatever. As irritating as Anne Rice has gotten (both as an author and as an individual, in the past decade), she used to write pretty nifty popcorn books and managed to change a genre in the process. The strongest reaction I've had to this is to wrinkle my nose and say "Huh. No wonder she had to publish out of a little indie house with crap cover graphics."

Am I just being irrationally bitchy? Does anybody even know what I'm talking about? Does the fact that this book hasn't made the rounds despite being out for more than a decade say something? I figured at least *some* of you guys might know.
pierydys: (Default)

Mirrored from The Velvet Kerfuffle.

Hoo. All right, so most of you that know me know that I’ve been involved in vampire fandoms for a pretty long time. It’s where I started and I still keep a pretty close watch on where various threads of it are going, even if I no longer actively participate. So you’d think that I’d be all over this latest segment in my Queer Theory class, where we get to analyze minority distinctions (read: queer and not white) in readings of the undead. And to a certain extent, I am. But more on a meta level, because the text that the professor gave us to work with is, erm, less than engaging.

Anybody read it? _The Gilda Stories_. Lesbian minority vampires. I went in giving it more of a chance than I would many things, based on that premise alone. However, the prose is grating and the schizophrenic, incessant POV jerking makes me want to stomp on the thing. Also, it reads at times more like straight-out propaganda than a novel. While I’m all for having an agenda (ha! y’think?), I don’t appreciate those who don’t take the time to present it in a manner respectful to the medium. I realize it isn’t a huge sub-genre, so my professor probably did the best he could, but still. I find myself hoping that he seriously didn’t think this was actually a literary work or whatever. As irritating as Anne Rice has gotten (both as an author and as an individual, in the past decade), she used to write pretty nifty popcorn books and managed to change a genre in the process. The strongest reaction I’ve had to this is to wrinkle my nose and say “Huh. No wonder she had to publish out of a little indie house with crap cover graphics.”

Am I just being irrationally bitchy? Does anybody even know what I’m talking about? Does the fact that this book hasn’t made the rounds despite being out for more than a decade say something? I figured at least *some* of you guys might know.

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Huh. In between bouts of extreme boredom and far too much time spent sleeping, I'm surprised to discover that I actually saw three movies this weekend.

Yesterday, I saw The Bourne Identity with [livejournal.com profile] mimesere and [livejournal.com profile] silviakundera. Wherein we spent far too much time contemplating two main things: (1) how Matt Damon must've whored himself to the old lecherous fisherman and (2) the mysterious disappearing and reappearing red bag. Silly movie which made only the most superficial of attempts to put together a plot before getting on with the fun spy stuff. But at least they seemed to realize that was what they were doing, and I don't mind that. Silvia also sang us her very own renditions of black metal songs, we visited a shoe store staffed entirely by sparkly boys, and Sheila decided that Mondo and the boy with the funny beanie at the smoothie shop were *so* doing it. They probably were, too, but it wasn't our place to inform them of that, especially since he gave us a huge drum of smoothie to make up for an extended wait. Oh, and there was the happy flaming Walmart boy who squeed at my Britney poster as well, but I think Silvia mentioned that in her post. We must've been walking around with rainbows painted on our foreheads or something :-)

Then today, I finally got to see [livejournal.com profile] zeldachilds' fabulous new digs and got a pair of happy new shoes that will hopefully save my leopard print sandals from being completely worn to bits, since they were the only pair of non-boot business casual shoes I owned. No, I figured the thigh-high glitter boots wouldn't go over too well with the manager, sadly. We went to see Signs. I have mixed feelings about it. Anybody else have reviews? It kinda... puzzled me. Not the actual story, but what he must've been thinking to decide to make it the way it was made. Like most of MNS's movies, the premise and build-up are good, but the end turned out to be... eh. I mean, not a bad eh, but just a.. dunno. A bit anticlimactic? No, not that, either... just kinda silly. Although the fact that it was set in Bucks County amused me to no end and reminded me of how much I miss Devy and her wacky Pennsylvanian family. Shall have to visit soon, oh yes. Does anybody know when it was written and filmed? Zelda made a good point about the reasoning behind it and I'd like to see if there's any truth to it. Though I guess tweaking during filming is also very possible.

So we're on our way out of that movie when we notice that My Big Fat Greek Wedding is just starting. Zelda, in a fit of larcenous inspiration, decides a second movie is in order and we end up seeing that as well. It was the second time for both of us and much of a change from the tiny indie film houses we'd previously gone to, most definitely. And I'd never seen the first five minutes, so it was nice to have that part filled in as well. Seeing Joey merrily shouting "We're gonna kill ya!" is worth getting home at 12:40 on a work night, I think. Especially when you're paying practically $10 for a ticket because there's no student discounts, the bastards.

So yes, just wanted to thank y'all for making this weekend far more amusing than it would've been if I'd just spent that time staring at the walls, since I have this weird mental block against actually seeing movies by myself. And, um, the other conclusion I've come to is that we need to get all of you to a karaoke night very soon. But that's just my opinion :-)
pierydys: (Default)

Mirrored from The Velvet Kerfuffle.

Huh. In between bouts of extreme boredom and far too much time spent sleeping, I’m surprised to discover that I actually saw three movies this weekend.

Yesterday, I saw The Bourne Identity with and . Wherein we spent far too much time contemplating two main things: (1) how Matt Damon must’ve whored himself to the old lecherous fisherman and (2) the mysterious disappearing and reappearing red bag. Silly movie which made only the most superficial of attempts to put together a plot before getting on with the fun spy stuff. But at least they seemed to realize that was what they were doing, and I don’t mind that. Silvia also sang us her very own renditions of black metal songs, we visited a shoe store staffed entirely by sparkly boys, and Sheila decided that Mondo and the boy with the funny beanie at the smoothie shop were *so* doing it. They probably were, too, but it wasn’t our place to inform them of that, especially since he gave us a huge drum of smoothie to make up for an extended wait. Oh, and there was the happy flaming Walmart boy who squeed at my Britney poster as well, but I think Silvia mentioned that in her post. We must’ve been walking around with rainbows painted on our foreheads or something :-)

Then today, I finally got to see ‘ fabulous new digs and got a pair of happy new shoes that will hopefully save my leopard print sandals from being completely worn to bits, since they were the only pair of non-boot business casual shoes I owned. No, I figured the thigh-high glitter boots wouldn’t go over too well with the manager, sadly. We went to see Signs. I have mixed feelings about it. Anybody else have reviews? It kinda… puzzled me. Not the actual story, but what he must’ve been thinking to decide to make it the way it was made. Like most of MNS’s movies, the premise and build-up are good, but the end turned out to be… eh. I mean, not a bad eh, but just a.. dunno. A bit anticlimactic? No, not that, either… just kinda silly. Although the fact that it was set in Bucks County amused me to no end and reminded me of how much I miss Devy and her wacky Pennsylvanian family. Shall have to visit soon, oh yes. Does anybody know when it was written and filmed? Zelda made a good point about the reasoning behind it and I’d like to see if there’s any truth to it. Though I guess tweaking during filming is also very possible.

So we’re on our way out of that movie when we notice that My Big Fat Greek Wedding is just starting. Zelda, in a fit of larcenous inspiration, decides a second movie is in order and we end up seeing that as well. It was the second time for both of us and much of a change from the tiny indie film houses we’d previously gone to, most definitely. And I’d never seen the first five minutes, so it was nice to have that part filled in as well. Seeing Joey merrily shouting “We’re gonna kill ya!” is worth getting home at 12:40 on a work night, I think. Especially when you’re paying practically $10 for a ticket because there’s no student discounts, the bastards.

So yes, just wanted to thank y’all for making this weekend far more amusing than it would’ve been if I’d just spent that time staring at the walls, since I have this weird mental block against actually seeing movies by myself. And, um, the other conclusion I’ve come to is that we need to get all of you to a karaoke night very soon. But that’s just my opinion :-)

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Scooby Doo: So, like, we saw this Friday night and I apparently forgot by the next morning. So much so that it totally did not cross my mind to write about it in the rundown before I was reminded. So I guess this means that it, uh, didn't leave much of an impression. I mean, it was okay. It was perfect summer fare. It amused, it was visually fun (those sets must've been so much fun) and... I dunno, it just didn't do anything for me. *shrug* Maybe it was just the overdose of CGI that did it? Maybe it was just that there wasn't anybody particularly likable, though I'll concede that Matthew Lillard was very good. But still. Eh. I'm amused that I seem to have the exact opposite reactions to this and Minority Report, compared the other reviews I've been reading on the friends list. Then again, my criteria for movies tends to be much more... shallow? Perhaps. :-) Lenient. In a strange way. But moving on.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire: *So* not a Disney flick. *So* not a children's movie. Like, wow. Felt obliged to see it since it was the only one of the recent films that we'd skipped over completely. It was like an adopted Dreamworks baby trying desperately to fit into the Disney herd and not even passing, I swear. I mean, the dialogue was fun, the story was decent, the content was there... but... we just kept on blinking and saying, "Are you sure this is Disney?" But then they had a Lilo & Stitch trailer at the very end and that was happy, so hey.

Lamppost Pizza's Chicken, Artichoke Heart, Fresh Tomato and Basil Pizza: Still kicks ass.

And yeah, I think that's just about covers it :-) I'm all about the recs -- enlighten us as to what's worth watching!
pierydys: (Default)

Mirrored from The Velvet Kerfuffle.

Scooby Doo: So, like, we saw this Friday night and I apparently forgot by the next morning. So much so that it totally did not cross my mind to write about it in the rundown before I was reminded. So I guess this means that it, uh, didn’t leave much of an impression. I mean, it was okay. It was perfect summer fare. It amused, it was visually fun (those sets must’ve been so much fun) and… I dunno, it just didn’t do anything for me. *shrug* Maybe it was just the overdose of CGI that did it? Maybe it was just that there wasn’t anybody particularly likable, though I’ll concede that Matthew Lillard was very good. But still. Eh. I’m amused that I seem to have the exact opposite reactions to this and Minority Report, compared the other reviews I’ve been reading on the friends list. Then again, my criteria for movies tends to be much more… shallow? Perhaps. :-) Lenient. In a strange way. But moving on.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire: *So* not a Disney flick. *So* not a children’s movie. Like, wow. Felt obliged to see it since it was the only one of the recent films that we’d skipped over completely. It was like an adopted Dreamworks baby trying desperately to fit into the Disney herd and not even passing, I swear. I mean, the dialogue was fun, the story was decent, the content was there… but… we just kept on blinking and saying, “Are you sure this is Disney?” But then they had a Lilo & Stitch trailer at the very end and that was happy, so hey.

Lamppost Pizza’s Chicken, Artichoke Heart, Fresh Tomato and Basil Pizza: Still kicks ass.

And yeah, I think that’s just about covers it :-) I’m all about the recs — enlighten us as to what’s worth watching!

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IN THEATERS:

Minority Report: Wherein Steve manages to *not* leave us pained and feeling vaguely gummy by the ending. A very decently wrought flick. Lesson definitely learned from AI. Cont'd )

Lilo & Stitch: Painfully cute. Wherein Disney encourages us to embrace our inner freaks. Perky evil with a heart of gold (tm). "I...like....fluffy! Grarrrgh!" Disney reclaims cute snark, finally comes into its own in its struggle to step away from the old niche of fantasy-musical-with-sidekicks, and all is well with the world. "Trickyfish! Trickyfish!" "My friends... need to be punished." "Are you sure you don't want another dog, honey?" "No, this is a good one. I can tell." Bestest thing since _Lion King_... see it, love it, buy the stuffed animal. We did. :-)

ON VIDEO:

Return to Oz: Wherein we discover why poor Fairuza Balk grew up to be the traumatized little freak she is. And then wonder where all the Dorothy/Ozma slash is. Then decide that it will probably engender yet more fic once we get over the pure terror it wrought in us.

Longshot: I classify this film as purely inspirational. This is because it was such utter and complete crap that it made just about everything I ever did, no matter how questionable in merit, seem like Oscar-worthy Fine Art. Therefore, I nominate as one of our contenders for feel-good movie of the year. Besides, how often do we get to see Lance fly a plane?

GOOD EATS:

Coffee Bean's Coco Lime Ice Blendeds: Sans the actual coconut part, since they were out. Which was well enough, since we didn't like coconut anyway. Good stuff, and a nice summery departure from my customary Sunrises. Gold star of approval in the happy flavored drinks department. However, please note that their tiramisu cake, in fact, does not in any way taste like tiramisu. This was pardoned, though, because there was metallic gold in the frosting.

ON THE CATWALK:

Anthropologie: Where frilly has been in since before it was in. Cute summer line, several pieces of which will probably be migrating into our collective wardrobes for a certain trip down south in the next month or so. Shopping yay!

Hilo Hattie: Love the muumuu. Embrace the muumuu. On the checklist - matching flowered sundresses and straw hats are a must for the tacky tourist look. Please note and implement.
pierydys: (Default)

Mirrored from The Velvet Kerfuffle.

IN THEATERS:

Minority Report: Wherein Steve manages to *not* leave us pained and feeling vaguely gummy by the ending. A very decently wrought flick. Lesson definitely learned from AI. Either that, or his staff is doing a better job of spritzing his nose whenever he decides he’s come up with a “better” re-write. Of course, we’re pretty sure we know where the original ending was and where he decided a new one was needed. All the same, it worked out decently.

Steve: Hey guys! *waves around newly revised script* So I rethought the ending, and wouldn’t it be great if we had talking robots and everybody hugged and…
Producers: Steve, give us the script. Slowly now. That’s a good boy. Hand it over. *grab* Quick, where are the matches?
Steve: Hey! That’s my only copy!
Producers: Good. We’ll pretend this never happened.
Steve: That’s what you said the last time. Then you roasted marshmallows over the stack you burned and…
Producers: It’s for your own good, buddy. You’ll be thanking us a year from now.

And then, there’s our boy Colin. Poor thing.

Colin: Look at me! I’m a good cop! I’m smart! I’m cute! I get major screen time and get to be an antagonist and flirt with Tom and solve the mystery and I… *flips page* die? *blinks* Steve!
Steve: They made me do it. I tried to bring you back as an android for a happy ending, but was vetoed.
Colin: I die? But I’m a good guy! Good guys don’t die in your movies.
Steve: *helpless shrug* Eh.

Lilo & Stitch: Painfully cute. Wherein Disney encourages us to embrace our inner freaks. Perky evil with a heart of gold ™. “I…like….fluffy! Grarrrgh!” Disney reclaims cute snark, finally comes into its own in its struggle to step away from the old niche of fantasy-musical-with-sidekicks, and all is well with the world. “Trickyfish! Trickyfish!” “My friends… need to be punished.” “Are you sure you don’t want another dog, honey?” “No, this is a good one. I can tell.” Bestest thing since _Lion King_… see it, love it, buy the stuffed animal. We did. :-)

ON VIDEO:

Return to Oz: Wherein we discover why poor Fairuza Balk grew up to be the traumatized little freak she is. And then wonder where all the Dorothy/Ozma slash is. Then decide that it will probably engender yet more fic once we get over the pure terror it wrought in us.

Longshot: I classify this film as purely inspirational. This is because it was such utter and complete crap that it made just about everything I ever did, no matter how questionable in merit, seem like Oscar-worthy Fine Art. Therefore, I nominate as one of our contenders for feel-good movie of the year. Besides, how often do we get to see Lance fly a plane?

GOOD EATS:

Coffee Bean’s Coco Lime Ice Blendeds: Sans the actual coconut part, since they were out. Which was well enough, since we didn’t like coconut anyway. Good stuff, and a nice summery departure from my customary Sunrises. Gold star of approval in the happy flavored drinks department. However, please note that their tiramisu cake, in fact, does not in any way taste like tiramisu. This was pardoned, though, because there was metallic gold in the frosting.

ON THE CATWALK:

Anthropologie: Where frilly has been in since before it was in. Cute summer line, several pieces of which will probably be migrating into our collective wardrobes for a certain trip down south in the next month or so. Shopping yay!

Hilo Hattie: Love the muumuu. Embrace the muumuu. On the checklist – matching flowered sundresses and straw hats are a must for the tacky tourist look. Please note and implement.

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Mirrored from The Velvet Kerfuffle.

“Live jazz… as opposed to the dead sort?” “As opposed to the sort that’s processed, pasteurized and in a can, so to speak.” “Look at the size of this place. I’m surprised it’s not made for sardines. I wonder how many fire code regulations they’re breaking?” “Not as many as health code regulations, if the stories we’ve heard about their food are true.”

Ah, Tuesday nights. And this, the last of our ever-amusing series of class outings. I’d like to be able to declare that we were in top form for proper cultural appreciation that evening, but as usual after a day of work, end-of-the-semester workloads from several classes, and severe sleep deprivation aggravated by a few consecutive overdoses of legally addictive chemical substances, that was not the case. On the bright side, at least we’d get to have dinner that night, which was always a plus. Not that the bottled designer ginger ale at OCPAC isn’t wonderful (because it is), but it’s always nice to have an actual menu to pick over.

Steamers, as it turned out, was one of those hole-in-the-wall places that we probably would have gone to on our own accord simply because we tend to gravitate towards wacky places with hand-lettered signs and live music. It had the right idea, cute decor, and just the right pinch of personality to keep it from being just another chain restaurant. Furthermore, if it had been more centrally located, in a busy shopping center (like the Block in Orange) or somewhere in a trendy area of Los Angeles, you can bet that it’d be sold out and flooding over with customers every night. Perhaps then it could have afforded a bit of expansion, both in venue and in talent. As it was, though, being in a part of town that was heading towards skeazy and being seemingly half full even when the entertainment was finally up on the stage, it had a bit of a sad lonely feeling… the sort that you’d get at a western saloon in a Clint Eastwood film, perhaps. There wasn’t even a dance floor, I noted rather dismally. How can you have a bandstand and not a dance floor? It was like waiting for the other shoe to drop, only you didn’t actually have another shoe because the clerk forgot to put it in the box when you bought it for forty percent off on the clearance rack at Nordstrom, which is a pity because they were the very nice sort with patent leather uppers, etched designs and pretty lace-up boot cords. But that’s sort of like something out of a western, too.

The waitstaff, we noted, was considerably less helpful towards us once it was ascertained that we were “part of that group in the back.” Oh, the stigma – perhaps they assumed we’d only order ice water and a bread basket. Once again, the stereotypes come into play. I make tsk tsk sounds as we follow the host back. We end up ordering drinks and an appetizer to start with. Their hummus and flatbread, while not anything special, was pretty standard bar fare and came in generous portions. Probably because they just glopped the whole canful onto a plate, true, but with our lowered expectations, we weren’t too upset. A certain classmate asked what we were having, then after being informed, told us that she was sure it was pleasant, but would never try it because it had a funny name. I suppose naming conventions define her outerdistance when it comes to sampling foods foreign to her, which is a rather narrow-minded way to go about it, in my never quite humble opinion. “Darn those wacky Indians, they should have named it something more public-relations-friendly — when will they ever learn that everything should be in English?!” Luckily, I hold my tongue and go back to picking at our food.

The band comes on and warms up a bit, doing a soundcheck. We decide to order something else. The house panini, it turns out, is certainly nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Mostly because their idea of focaccia is much more closely related in texture to an English muffin than anything vaguely Italian. I pick at it slowly and end up finishing off the salad garnish instead. It’s hard to go wrong with greens from a bag, I figure. Sometimes I wish that we’d never discovered the Food Network – our inner gourmet snobs have been much more vocal after watching various such shows. Overall wrap-up on the food? Perfectly edible, if not anything particularly special. The prices, outside of the exorbitant fees on the drinks, are fairly reasonable and everything is fairly non-offensive. Combined with the atmosphere, should the place be busy, it would be a nice place to hang out with friends or on a quiet date. We might actually go back one of these days, if there’s anything particularly interesting on their performance schedule.

Speaking of performances, there happened to be one that evening, by the way. This lovely girl and a band. I wish I could remember their names, but I didn’t take a flyer and this sort of show isn’t really the place where they hand out pre-printed programs highlighting the numbers they’ll perform. Although I did recognize a couple of tunes like “Bye Bye Blackbird” and “Somewhere Along the Way”, I really don’t remember where they’re from or whom they were by. The entire group seemed to take a couple songs or so to get warmed up, but that’s pretty typical as well, I suppose. The trumpeter seemed to be under the impression that noise would substitute where creativity ran out… or I could just be thinking that because we were directly in the path of his horn the entire time and my ears started protesting mightily halfway through the set. The pianist was probably the last to really get into the swing of things – he seemed pretty textbook and even a little bored until probably the last number. He was doing perfectly fine accompaniment, but seemed a bit sedate to me during his solos. I was amused at the drummer and bassist constantly exchanging looks during their performances – even that tiny bit of animation was more entertaining than what the pianist was doing. The lead singer also seemed a bit bored at first, but got into it more around halfway into the second song. Her higher notes seemed a bit more swallowed than should be healthy, but I’m thinking that might have as much to do with adapting to the sound system and small venue as it did to her actual technique. I hope so. Overall, I just remember her as having a rather smooth and subtle voice that would go well in background music, but wasn’t anything I would probably look up from my meal to witness if we weren’t there for class. They honestly just didn’t have the sort of lively stage presence that I was hoping for.

On a tangent, though, I’d like to mention just briefly that over the weekend, we were in Las Vegas on a shoot and that Saturday evening, we had dinner at the House of Blues. There was a small band performing there as well, once again just a few feet from us while we were trying to explain to our waiter what we wanted. This particular singer, while also diminutive and Caucasian, sounded like she was possessed by some large fabulous old-time diva. She had the presence, she had the delivery, and she had the occasional throaty lyric-belting down to an art. She also picked up a guitar and played with the band on occasion, which set her that much higher in our esteem. The bassist looked amused as well, while the drummer ended up losing his hat about midway through the set because of his vigorous head nodding. While the most boisterous clapping was coming from the corner where the family and friends had settled, the rest of the room applauded in a decidedly unforced manner. In short, this particular ensemble kept us entertained to the point where we didn’t even notice the length of time we had to wait for our appetizers. And that, I think, is probably what I would expect from “live music” over dinner.

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