Food, drink, film and other random thoughts from The Lone Star State.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Cheese To My Macaroni

I remember being completely creeped out by her in Hard Candy, not a film I particularly liked. But everyone I know loved Ellen Page in this, so HEU Tara and I went to investigate.

Some people complained that this film was advocating teen pregnancy. Did I see the same film? I'm not sure how they came to that conclusion. I just saw it as taking a situation like teen pregnancy, bringing it out into the open (you know, since its a reality and all) and giving the situation a possible outcome.

We loved it. If you were moved to see the likes of Napolean Dynamite and Superbad, just think of this as a more intelligent version with faster, wittier dialogue. There are so many memorable one-liners, like the post title, that I will probably buy this one just to remember them all.

Unlike other teen-based comedies, I thought the characters were balanced and their actions weren't too over-the-top. The situation is believable, with the possible exception of the parents reacting so calmly to their 16-year daughter getting pregnant. I laughed continuously but there were some serious, well-placed moments of drama and reflection.

Yay for the return of the offbeat indie comedy!

(we also like the venue, The Magnolia, because we could drink wine while watching the movie!)


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Tuesday, January 15, 2008


The first of the year I try to get together my travel destinations for the rest of the year. This year is difficult because I've included some new travel mates and you know how it goes when you try to get more than two people to agree to times and locations. So far we have this list.

Fort Lauderdale: Never been and it might be a good weekend jaunt. I've been to Miami a bunch of times but everyone tells me FLL is a different experience (Not sure how since its only a couple of miles north, who knows!)

Santa Fe / Albuquerque: For a number of years my sister and I went to the Santa Fe Wine and Chili Fiesta. I loved it for the longest time then it just became too commercial. Its been about 5 years so we're thinking of giving it another chance this year.

Prague: I've been curious about Prague for a very long time. After seeing Jason's photo essay I am convinced this will be on the roster, even if I have to go by myself.

Morocco: If I had to vote for the country with the most beautiful people it would be a toss up between Israel, Turkey and this place. The culture here fascinates me with its influences from Spain and France.

Istanbul: To me this is the ultimate in east meets west, I mean literally and geographically this is the city where that happens! My parents are going there this summer so I might pop over and visit with them, maybe Cousin from Israel can join since its relatively close.

So, where are you thinking of traveling this year?


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Bible Quotin' Killer

Not a huge fan of the Western but this one came recommended by everyone. Its a remake of the same name from 50 years ago. I'm very surprised to say it was one of my favorite movies of 2007. The filming is excellent, the directing is tight with great use of pause for emotional tension. The acting, well, what can I say, I really think Christian Bale is turning into the De Niro of my generation. But, the show stealer is totally Ben Foster as the bad guy loyalist with some of best delivery of dark humor around.

Typical good vs. evil and the struggle to do the right thing themes throughout, although some scenes keep you guessing which side the characters will choose. I thought I had the story figured out but the end was a little bit of a departure, although a quite a welcomed one.

3:10 To Yuma

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Christmas was good this year. We spent it in Cincinnati where my sister moved 2 years ago. Even though my sister lives only 15 minutes from downtown we had not spent much time there in previous years. This year I decided to do 2 days at her house and the rest of the time downtown.

I liked downtown Cincinnati! It has a surprisingly urban feel; polished in some parts, gritty in others and downright south central LA in an area known as Over The Rhine (which I mistakenly walked through at length).

I stayed at The Cincinnatian, a great 5-star in the smack of things. Service is way over-the-top. And I mean that in a good way. My room was over-sized and extraordinarily comfortable. Everything I wanted to see and do was no more than a four block walk. If for some reason you find yourself in downtown Cincinnati, I recommend it!

The Cincinnatian

I had to twist my sister and bro-in-law's arms to get them into downtown to try some new restaurants. Actually I could barely finish the mere suggestion before my parents were assigned to the babysitting task and sister was dressed and ready to go!

Jean Ro's Bistro

413 Vine St.
Cincinnati, OH
(513) 621-1465

Jean Ro's is a casual French. Its owned by the same guy that owns Jean Robert's, which we tried the night following. I asked a couple of people at the hotel the difference between the two. I think the 20-something bellman hit it : "Comparing Jean Ro's Bistro to Jean Robert's is like comparing a Big Mac to a Fillet Mignon"

True, but Jean Ro's is still very good and I'll definitely go back. I tasted everyone's entrees and they were all great. What I liked about JeanRo's, unlike other French bistros, was that they didn't rely on flavor by saturation with sauces. In fact, my pan-fried trout was thankfully devoid of sauce and the plate wasn't pooling with butter either.

Jean Ro's Bistro

Jean Robert's @ Pigalls

127 W. 4th St.
Cincinnati, OH
(513) 721-1345

I was skeptical of claims that Jean Robert's was rated the best restaurant in the country for 2006. IN THE COUNTRY. Considering all the great meals Ive had at home in Dallas as well as NYC and Chicago, I just found it hard to believe. Believe it. This goes down as one of my top 3 meals ever.

The 3-course tasting menu is the way to go. And definitely have the wine guy pick out which wine would be best. He was very knowledgeable and very personable.


  • Indiana goat cheese en croute with french green beans and currants.
  • Scallops in red pepper sauce with mushroom-pumpkin risotto.
  • The cheese plate or the warm chocolate torte with cherry ice cream.

With every course I looked over at my sister and brother in law and they both had their eyes closed and looked like they were going to need a tissue. I usually forget most everything after a week but I still remember this meal vividly.

Jean Robert's @ Pigalls

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Seminal Punk

He was the first person I ever saw in concert. I remember him walking out onto the dark stage. The crowd, including yours truly with number one cut blue hair, went wild. As he played, with the angle I was at, it wasn't clear which was larger - the man or his guitar. He was probably all of 5'7", and 5'6" of that was rebellious energy. He jumped, he slammed into band members, kicked speakers, spit water into the audience and he let out that cigarette-strained voice like only he could. You could barely hear him sing Rock The Casbah over the crowd who were all too enthusiastic over the first US concert by The Clash.

Joe Strummer anchored The Clash and really, he was kind of instrumental in introducing and anchoring generations of Americans to BritPunk - the disco crushing wave that started sometime in the late 70's.

I loved this guy, don't ask me why.

When I found out there was a film about him I had to see it. Its a great film with interesting archive footage from his days with The Clash and his post-Clash days with The Mescaleros. Probably it started out as a tour documentary and then it morphed into a tribute, if not a eulogy to Strummer. You don't really have to be a fan of The Clash to enjoy this one, just a fan of anyone who is personable, outspoken and incapable of conforming to crap they know is wrong.

My only complaint about this film is that, like Strummer's life, it was entirely too short.

Joe Strummer

Let's Rock Again

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008


IHMO, brothers Joel and Ethan Coen are two of the best writers in the film industry. I've been waiting for them to follow up to their somewhat disappointing Ladykillers and sure enough they have. And this one is much better than Ladykillers, even better than Fargo.

Its not a stretch that this one will snag awards. I mean its only been out for a short time and already it has been voted one of the top 20 movies of all time. OF ALL TIME.

I loved this film because it had the Coen's trademark humor under gravely serious circumstances. I also loved the performances by all three of the leads: Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones.

No doubt Javier Bardem will snag an award as the very unnerving serial killer who plagues small-town West Texas. Its truly the best performance he has given to date. Although I have to say I was equally impressed with Josh Brolin, who stumbles onto the path of the serial killer and tries to track him. I think Brolin should always talk in a West Texas drawl, wear boots and carry a gun; I like him like that. Tommy Lee as the small-town sheriff on the case is completely in his element; he really has some of the best lines too.

I heard rumors that this film was very violent. I didn't think so. In fact, I found it less gruesome than some of the tamer episodes of Sopranos. I think it implies way more sinister activity than it shows, maybe that is what people are talking about.

The action is very tense when its on, the writing is phenomenal and the pace is tight but not breakneck. Definitely this one will appeal to film goers wanting a visceral experience.

Josh Brolin

No Country For Old Men

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