Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sunshine Cleaning and Gourmet Cobbler

Today Sean and I saw another movie at Academy Theatre in Pasadena, the $2 movie place. Places like this are a real find because let's face it, movie prices are ridiculous. Paying $11.50 each to see a movie plus at least another $10 for popcorn and a soda makes me ill. So spending a whole whopping $4 today at the theatre was awesome and Sunshine Cleaning was really good which makes it even better. This is by the same people who did Little Miss Sunshine and it definitely feels similar, but not in a copy cat way. Even though it is comedic, it's a bitter sweet sort of comedy. There are points where I was teary-eyed and other parts where I laughed out loud. I thought it was very effective and touching and showed real family relationships in all their complexity. I never felt manipulated which is important to me because some movies seem to try to make you cry or have specific emotions; it's like emotional blackmail. I did not feel that way with this movie at all, it felt very genuine.
After the movie we were walking back to the cars when we smelled something yummy and noticed people going into this tiny shop on Catalina Ave. We opened the door to The Gourmet Cobbler Factory, and it smelled like home, but home where someone knows how to make many different kinds of cobbler and other down home goodies. They have apple, peach, boysenberry, blackberry, blueberry, and mixed berry cobblers as well as sweet potato pie, lemon meringue, pecan pie... I could go on and on. We took home a mixed berry cobbler and ate it for dessert and let me tell you, it is GOOD. A little tart with a nice crust and big juicy berries, YUM! We had it with ice cream, but it would have been good all on it's own. I will definitely go back there and try something different next time. Click here to visit their website: . It looks like you can order online if you don't live nearby, I highly recommend you try them. It wasn't cheap but since we saved money on the movie we could splurge a little on the cobbler and I'm really glad we did!

Both Sunshine Cleaning and Gourmet Cobbler Factory deserve 4 Monkees!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

La Muse East Village and Sir Comedy

I wanted to do something for Sean last weekend, something a little different and fun so I went searching online for events in the area and found a comedy show in the dome at the Queen Mary. The dome used to house the Spruce Goose but now is used for events. It's huge; seats 2500 people and Sir Comedy Knights was having a show there. The headliner was Rondell Sheridan of That's So Raven and they had another comic plus a magician on the bill as well as strolling magicians. Sounded like fun so I bought two tickets for $25 each and then looked for a restaurant to have dinner. Here's the link for their website: I had eaten at a creperie in Long Beach called La Creperie Cafe which was very good. When I did a search on Yelp they had some good reviews and some bad but La Muse had much better reviews in all, so I thought we'd try that for something new. They close early on Sunday's so I made our reservations for 5:00 pm and ended up inviting some friends who live in LB as well as our friend Meg who lives in the house in front of us which was no problem. When we got to La Muse it was clear why it wasn't a problem, they were pretty dead. The waiter was very nice and attentive, offering wine suggestions and making little jokes which was nice. However, I have to say it did not live up to the reviews. The crepes were decent but not as good as at La Creperie and it was fairly expensive. The dessert crepe we tried was good; nutella, bananas and strawberries but it really seemed to Sean and I that being a creperie was a second thought for them. They had a much larger selection of wines than crepes; I'd guess that they started out as a wine bar that didn't take off and decided that hey, wine is French and crepes are French, let's combine the two! I'd suggest going to La Creperie if you are in the area.

Sir Comedy was... interesting. As I mentioned, the space is HUGE, not only in that it holds so many people, but because it's a dome the ceiling is very high and echoing. When we got to the Queen Mary we went on the ship first and had a drink then walked all over looking for ghosts because, as you may or may not know, it's supposed to be one of the most haunted places in the US. We didn't have any luck finding aparitions, so we went over to the dome. We ended up waiting outside because we were early and the first "kid friendly" show was still going on. We could see that there were not many people in the audience and really no one was waiting with us, so we wondered how full the second "adult" show would be. I have to think the promoters did not market the event very well because we estimated that there were approx. 35 people in the audience. In a room that seats 2500 this is pretty sad. The comics were funny and the magician was good, but we were as amused by the irony of the situation as by the comedy. I'm attaching a couple of pictures so you can see what I mean. Hopefully they will do a better job of advertising future shows because it must have been disheartening for the performers to look out at all those empty seats.

La Muse East Village and Sir Comedy earned 2 Monkees.

The performers at the show receive 3 Monkees.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Observe and Report

We saw this at the $2 theater in Pasadena (Academy Cinemas). Seth Rogen is really good as the dimwitted Ronnie Barnhardt. This is no Paul Blart here. Ronnie is a bi-polar security guard (excuse me, Head of Mall Security) who longs to be a real cop. We see the passion that Ronnie has for his job and the girl at the cosmetics counter (Anna Farris as Brandi) when a pervert shows up at the mall. Brandi and others are flashed by this menace which leads to Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta) being assigned to the case. In his quest to find this pervert, Ronnie is aided by a "crack" bunch of rent-a-cops (Two tubby asians, an effeminate hispanic, and a red-headed version of Matt Damon). Along the way, Ronnie realizes that he wants to be all that Harrison is, so he sets out to take the next step and actually apply to become a police officer. He is supported by his Mother (Celia Weston) and a gimpy barista (Collette Wolfe).

The characters are pretty well developed, and I found myself liking the ones I was supposed to like. The plot and dialog was mostly believable, and it moved pretty well. Kudos to Jody Hill for a fine writing and directing job. I would definitely recommend this movie to anybody who is able to catch it at a discounted matinee or movie house. If you can't find such a bargain, make sure you rent it when it goes to DVD. You won't be disappointed.

Observe and Report earns the right to remain 3 Popes!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Grateful Dead 05-09-09 at the Forum, Inglewood, CA

I am a Jerry-come-lately to the Grateful Dead. My first concert was December 9, 1993 at the Sports Arena. But by the end of the concert, I was hooked. Unfortunately, due to Jerry Garcia's death in August of 1995, I was only able to see them live on two other occasions. So, needless to say, I have been Jonesing to see them again in any way, shape or form. The Dead (Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, Jeff Chimenti, and Warren Haynes) announced that they were putting together a spring tour, and I immediately bought tickets.

Jean was "lucky" enough to escort me to the experience that is a Dead concert. We got to the Forum parking lot about an hour before the band hit the stage. We strolled around, stepped over pee (we think dog, but not sure), turned down the offers of veggie burritos and other fun items. The crazies were definitely in full effect.

We decided after we saw the cops telling people to empty their balloons that it was time to go inside. We got to our seats just in time to hear the first note of Viola Lee Blues. "The judge decreed it, the clerk he wrote it." The blues jam drifted into Bertha. "I had to move, really had to move, That's why if you please, I am on my bendin' knees, Bertha don't you come around here anymore." Bertha jammed back to Viola Lee, "Some got six month some got one solid. But me and my buddies all got lifetime here." This transitioned into Caution (Don't Stop on the tracks). The drums took on a staccato railroad beat and Warren belted out, "All you need is a mojo hand". This eventually flowed back into Viola Lee. 40 minutes into the concert, and they had finally finished playing the song they started off with.

One of my favorite jams of all time was done at UCLA in November of 1973. Playing in the Band>Uncle John's Band>Morning Dew>UJB>Playing. There's something about weaving multiple songs together that the Dead do so well, and that was the best of all time for me. But I didn't get to experience that in person. So, this was incredibly special to me. I later found out that the band hadn't played Viola Lee and Caution in the same set in Los Angeles since 1968! This was one for the ages. As Viola Lee came to an end, the theme for the evening was set, "You may know by that I've got a friend somewhere", the Dead were glad to be back amongst friends. "All of my friends come to see me last night", Black Peter was up next and Cosmic Charlie finished the opening set, "Say you'll come back when you can."

Jean and I stayed in our seats during the first intermission. When the band returned to the stage, they started cooking with Shakedown Street. I couldn't help but think that the Forum, "used to be the heart of town." Since the opening of the Staples Center, this old arena has been all but forgotten. I'm glad they went old school for this concert. It just makes more sense. Next on the setlist was New Speedway Boogie, "I spent a little time on the mountain Spent a little time on the hill." Maybe it was some kind of contact high, or maybe Bob and Phil were on another plane, but it seemed like my face was melting a bit from the heat coming off the stage. This was the weekend of the Santa Barbara fires, and the Dead took this opportunity to reflect on the devastation by throwing Scarlet Begonias/Fire on the Mountain at us. Scarlet Begonias has one of my favorite lyrics, "Once in a while you get shown the light In the strangest of places if you look at it right." This is kind of a mantra of mine nowadays. You never know when something good is going to come along (*cough*Jean*cough*). Fire ended up being the only song of the evening that is also on Rock Band. I got my lovely lady to chant the chorus with me, "Fire, fire on the mountain!!!"

Drums/Space started, and I usually take this opportunity to walk around, but the Forum isn't a good place to do that. So, we sat and enjoyed Drums and then "endured" Space. I found it to be an interesting Space, but Jean wasn't amused. It's definitely an acquired taste. Space flowed right into Dark Effing Star!!! Some more history here. By the time I got into the Dead, they weren't really playing Dark Star anymore. That didn't stop the die-hard dead heads from screaming it at the top of their lungs through most of the concert as if their pleas would be heard by Jerry and he was just insert it into the well thought out setlist. So, I have always joked about that at concerts. Kind of like yelling, "Free Bird!" I had permagrin as I heard, "Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds". They embedded a fantastic Wharf Rat into the middle of Dark Star, and I was in rock-n-roll heaven. One of my vices is playing the PC Video Game "Guild Wars." I've named quite a few characters after Dead songs. August West and Pearly Baker are two of my Nightfall characters (I've always wondered if GW was developed by Deadheads with an expansion entitled Nightfall - you never know). "My name is August West, and I love my Pearly Baker best, more than my wine". Well, the concert was nearly over, and Jean still hadn't heard a familiar tune. So, the Dead obliged by playing a classic Rolling Stones song - (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction. This finished the second set, but the obligatory encore was only moments away. Since it was a Saturday night, I was pretty sure what it was going to be. One More Saturday Night completed the evening's festivities. "Don't worry about tomorrow, Lord, you'll know it when it comes. When the rocking, rolling music meets the rising, shining sun."

I should have posted this review a couple weeks ago, but sometimes, things need to be done just right. I hope you find this was worth the wait. I know that this concert was for me.

This was the most enjoyable of the four (Grateful) Dead concerts that I've attended. For that and nostalgic reasons, it earns 5 Popes!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nawab of India

We had dinner tonight at Nawab of India in Santa Monica. It's an Indian restaurant that has a buffet lunch and on Yelp is listed with one $ sign, meaning it s/b fairly inexpensive. Sean used to deliver food for restaurants in Santa Monica and Nawab was one of those restaurants so we thought we'd eat there. We had Mint Chicken Tikka, Mutter Paneer, garlic naan and garden salads. The food was good, although there wasn't a lot of it the taste was there and really, American portions are rediculous anyway. We both had water with dinner so I can't comment on their drinks. One reason we stuck to water is that the one $ sign was misleading, the prices weren't exhorbitant but they weren't as low as you would expect. The service was not very friendly, although as we were leaving the host was a little warmer than during dinner. Nawab opens for dinner at 5:30 and at that time we were the only diners in the restaurant, so you'd think the service would be a little better. All in all, if you are in the area and want Indian you could try it or you could go to Chandni's which normally has good food and much warmer service.

Nawab earned 3 Monkees.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


AKA Kinda Fuckin' Cheap. So this evening we decided to use the coupons KFC put out online and get dinner on our way to the Grateful Dead concert in Inglewood. We went to the KFC in Sylmar, parked and went inside because we thought they might have trouble redeeming them in the drive thru. When we walked up to the counter with them, the girl at the register starts to hand us two other sheets of paper and tells us "we aren't accepting those printouts, you have to fill these out and mail them in and the'll mail you coupons". So Sean says "that's not what it said online when KFC offered them" and she told us that apparently a lot of people are making copies of the coupons and redeeming them so they aren't accepting them. Now, there's a whole lot wrong with this scenario, but we just ask for the manager. She comes out and tells us that corporate won't allow them to take the print outs, we have to get coupons by mailing something in. I point out that right on the print outs it says "coupon" and she reiterates the story about people making copies. Sean tells her "we printed these out just like it said to do, these aren't copies, you should be able to verify that by scanning the bar code, because each one that printed had a different number". She says there's nothing she can do and again said we'd have to mail it in. We told her we wouldn't be doing that, instead, Sean would be Twittering about it, we'd both be posting it on our Facebooks and I'd be adding it to a blog we have where we rate restaurants. I also mentioned how their competitor, El Pollo Loco, is accepting KFC coupons tomorrow, Mother's Day, when KFC wasn't accepting it themselves, and that it was pretty rediculous.
So that's what happened with KFC- they created a campaign that they clearly weren't ready to administer and now won't honor their committment to their customers because of their own shortsidedness. If they do not have a way of scanning the coupons, they shouldn't even have them print with a barcode and number. It seems their marketing dept must be pretty inept if they couldn't figure out how this would work before putting it into action and if it's not working correctly, they should just eat it, because it's their error, not the consumers. It also seems to me that the whole reasoning behind this offer was to get consumers to try their new grilled chicken and to compete more effectively with El Pollo Loco, but now I know we for sure won't be trying their new chicken and I encourage everyone reading this to use their coupons at EPL tomorrow and to not patronize KFC since it does not stand by it's promises.

KFC would get 0 Monkees if it was possible, but since it isn't, they earn 1 Monkee.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Parks and Recreation

Clearly this show is a clone of the Office, a somewhat handicapped clone. It's not terrible, but I think the format just doesn't work as well for the scenario as it does on the Office. The Office gang is cohesive, you know all of them, and there aren't a lot of extraneous characters. Parks, on the other hand, does have a core group, but I think by adding in so many other characters and taking the action out of a set location they lose that cohesion. I don't feel as invested in any of the characters, I'm not getting attached to them like I am to Michael, Jim, Pam, even Dwight. Hopefully the show will gel more as it goes. On the plus side, it's SO much better than Kath and Kim which made me want to claw out my own eyes and jam knitting needles into my eardrums so I wouldn't have to see or hear it. Instead I just turned the channel and I'm not doing that with P & R.

Parks and Recreation doesn't make us want to change the channel, so I guess it gets 3 Monkees.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Weekend trip to the Central Coast

Friday, May 1st: we leave the LA area around 1:00 pm and head west on the 210, then north on the 5 through Valencia, then west on the 126 into Ventura where we catch the 101 north. We've decided to stop for lunch in Santa Barbara at a tiny hole in the wall Mexican place I've heard of but never tried. It's called La Super Rica Taqueria and is located on Milpas St. Supposedly Julia Child's considered this one of the best restaurants she'd ever been to even though it's a tiny little place. The online reviews are mostly very good, but there are some negative ones, so we aren't sure what to expect. There was a line, but we got in pretty quickly and I ordered one of the specials, chicken enchiladas with mushrooms and a cream sauce and Sean ordered a cheese and chorizo dish with corn tortillas. I also got a bottled orange soda drink and Sean got horchata, our bill was a little pricier than expected, $18 for the two of us. My enchiladas were good, their home made tortillas are really nice. Sean's dish was a little odd; a small bowl with melted cheese in it and chunks of chorizo floating in the cheese. He had three corn tortillas to make tacos out of, but it didn't come close to filling him up. All in all, it was decent, but we wouldn't go out of our way to eat there again.Friday night, approx. 8:30 pm, we are in Santa Maria and needing to get some dinner. We try to go to a pizza place in Orcutt I used to like on occasion; really deep dish and you could get a tri-tip pizza. Of course it's changed ownership by now, so we go to Olivia's Mexican restaurant around the corner. They close at 9:00 but when we go in they are friendly and tell us it's no problem (by then it was 8:45). I wasn't very hungry so I ordered a side salad and we shared a Mexican pizza and Sean ordered a chorizo burrito (it was his chorizo day). I thought the food was just ok; the "crispy" tortilla making up the bottom of the pizza was not crispy at all, but the toppings were good. The service was definitely above average, so I would go back and try something different to give them another chance.Saturday night we go into Pismo Beach to have drinks with a friend. We end up going to the SeaVenture Resort on Ocean View Ave. I had a specialty martini with citron vodka, champagne, lemon juice, and simple syrup, it was very nice and light. We also ordered their Rosemary Roasted Almonds and Mediterranean Crostini, they were a nice accompaniments to the drinks.Sunday we headed back towards LA but stopped at Fess Parkers winery in Los Olivos. For $10 you can taste 6 wines, three whites and three reds. They also threw in an extra port at the end for a sweet finish. I liked the reserve Syrah the best, it was very smooth and I would have bought it but I thought it was a little steeply priced at $45. The Pinot Noir was not nearly as good as many I've had, especially the ones from Oregon which I believe are superior to most Pinot's being made in California. We bought one bottle of the regular Syrah and some chocolate wine berry candies to take home. Then we stopped for lunch in Fillmore along the 126 freeway. We went to Diamond Dave's Cafe, which is only open till 2:00 for breakfast and lunch. I had the chicken salad sandwich and fruit while Sean had the chili size burger. My chicken salad was very good, with grapes and pecans in it, but Sean said his chili was definitely from a can and was only so/so. Again, decent food and the prices were fine also, but we wouldn't make an effort to stop again. That was our weekend, keep an eye out for a review of Russell Brand's new book "My Booky Wook" which I am currently reading.

The bar at the SeaVenture Resort gets 4 Monkees.

La Super Rica Taqueria, Olivia's Mexican Restaurant and Fess Parker's Winery all earn 3 Monkees.

Diamond Dave's Cafe only gets 2 Monkees.