July 31, 2009

All your free times are belonging to Miyamoto.

Are you still a gamer when you lack the time to play video games anymore?

I've been asking myself this lately during my times between two jobs and the necessities of sleep. I've been itching to play all this week, but I simply haven't had the time. I still read up on gaming websites, glee about upcoming release dates, sift through Amazon seeing if I can afford a few games I do not have in my collection yet, and have already procured tickets and taken off time for PAX.

All of this time invested in gaming and I still haven't played anything apart from Free Cell on my iPod during my 10 minute break this entire week. In fact, my lovely DS has been packed up inside of my suitcase since the beginning of June when I visited my parents for a few days. That was the last time I actually sat down with it, and I love it in all its white glory that I bought shortly after the Lites were first introduced. The DS is my favorite child out of all my gaming items, and its been abandoned in a suitcase for months.

The last time I used my Wii was also in June when my roommates and I were looking for a Brawl fest. The last time I used my PS2 was to play a movie. I actually have used my PC for gaming lately, but even then it's for Heroes of Might and Magic V and The Sims 2. I wouldn't call those games very epic or involved (though I do think that point is debatable concerning my Sims 2 neighborhood, which is a mash of Harry Potter, Firefly, and Sailor Moon characters...and maybe a random elf that pimps himself out. Harry kissing Simon Tam has created a whole host of irreversible ramifications, not to mention that Kaylee is heartbroken because, even though Harry is off pimping himself, Simon is utterly devoted to him. This upsets Ginny).

Point being, I haven't played anything substantial. I've even bought more games during this two month time where I haven't played anything. On top of that, I have a large backlist of games I own but I haven't played or finished. The gaming industry has effectively screwed over my conscious and free time because I actually feel guilt for not playing and not finishing anything within a few months. I'm fairly certain I've been playing Kingdom Hearts (yes, the FIRST one) for three years. Three years. Though at this point I think the game itself may have partial blame because taking so long to finish it may say something about its quality. Never mind that I have KHII sitting on my shelf, eagerly waiting like the orphaned child I salvaged from a clearance sale at Target over a year ago for its turn of attention and affection.

On top of that, I have plenty of good games I need to finish or play before I even feel like moving back to Kingdom Hearts, and the minute the new Edgeworth game comes out, or a new Fire Emblem, or when I finally buy myself a X360 with all the oodles of games I want just for that system, KHII may have already grown up and moved out of the house by then.

Or not. This is a Disney and Squeenix game we're talking about.

July 27, 2009

Everything I need to know in life I learned from Pike Place Market.

Working at Pike Place Market has taught me invaluable life lessons, more so than all the ones combined from watching every season of Boy Meets World (I'm convinced that Mr. Feeny probably setup shop here back in the 1700's, and thus how he learned all about life). Today I thought I would impart a bit of knowledge, a little glimpse into what surely takes a normal human being decades to learn-- if they're even lucky enough to do so.

Keep in mind that I sell fruit (mainly cherries right now, but moving into large, pitted fruits). This impacts the knowledge I'm about share with you somewhat, but that shouldn't matter too much.

1. Cherries have pits in them.
Boy did I not know that until I started selling these babies and a fellow mate in ignorance decided to try one in order to let me know whether or not cherries are pitted.

2. Different types of cherries are grown in Washington.
All of the cherries I sell come in boxes labeled "Washington Cherries." I figured that's what their name was, "Washington Cherries." Not "Bings," or "Rainiers," or "Vans," or whatever signs my employers ask me to put around the display boxes.

3. American money is hard to decipher because it isn't color coded.
I learned this from a European today. American paper money is really hard to count and confusing to use because it's all green, which means people actually have to look at and be able to read the number denomination in order to know the value, instead of being able to say, "Aha, pink is worth 500 dollars!" because the Euro is the currency of the entire world. It was invented before the Greeks.

4. Different types of cherries taste different.
So what if Rainiers are yellow and red, they're still cherries, so they must taste like Bings, right? In fact, all cherries taste like Bings. Even marcino cherries and cherry flavored Starbursts.

5. Just because it's a Farmer's Market in Seattle doesn't mean there aren't farmers selling from a foreign country.
When stating the name of the town or city your product is from, always make sure to say the location is within the state of Washington (example: "These cherries are from Cashmere, Washington"), otherwise consumers will rightly think your fruit came from Kashmir.

6. The best way to entertain a baby is to take multiple free samples.
Really, you just don't understand that hardships of child rearing and needing to steal handfuls of firm fruit in order to entertain your toothless baby by putting them in your own mouth.

7. It's important to know the prices of your competition states away from you.
Arizona is selling fruit cheaper than you? Make sure your lower your prices in order to sell competitively despite being several hours away!

8. The ONLY correct way to say "apricot" is "ah-pree-cot."
Not that the pronunciation isn't a regional dialect or anything. It's important to abide by the linguistic rules of the side of the state that doesn't grow apricots at all.

9. Always have a debit/credit card machine!
How dare a farmer's market be predominately cash only! I need to use my card for a $1 transaction that'll cost the local farmer at least 50 cents to process!

10. Always know where the nearest Japanese Animation and Comic Book store is located.
You never know when an otaku will need to get their fix outside of the International District.


11. Make sure you know what kind of fruit your selling.
Just because the box says they're cherries doesn't mean you aren't actually selling midget plums.

July 20, 2009

Why melted cheese rules me.

Fondue is delicious. A large array of foodie bits next to a pot of melty cheese is one of the most amazing things ever. Imagine my utter disappointment when my mother revealed that, despite every trend her and my father managed to take up since the early 60's, fondue just wasn't one of them.

Skipping to now, I was beyond excited when I learned of The Melting Pot last year after moving to Seattle for college. I went again today with some old coworkers, now friends, for happy hour.

Let me tell you, fondue isn't cheap, and compared to happy hours I've been to before, The Melting Pot out-expenses all of them (which makes sense considering how much fondue is). But what I really wanted to talk about isn't how amazing melted cheese on bread paired with a good martini is, since we all know it's damn delicious, but this hilariously awesome promo The Melting Pot is currently doing.

I learned of the promo after visiting the main website as I needed to acquire an address for Google Maps. The Melting Pot is advertising its Facebook application.

Yes, a Facebook application.

On the plus side, adding the application gives you a coupon for a free chocolate fondue for two, given that you and your partner/friendly friend buy a regular pot of cheese goodness. The downside is that you have to add the application.

But free chocolate fondue is worth it, I tell you! And, actually, the application is quite amazing. See, you need to pick two of your friends you think should date and stir them into a graphic of chocolate fondue. So I picked my best friend's boyfriend and her brother.

I bet you're wondering why I find this so great as seemingly only I would know who I picked in order to get the coupon, and we're going to get to that part right now.

If you're paying attention, pairing two friends rewards you with a coupon...and a few emails to said friends and a Facebook announcement heralding that you think said friends should be together.

The Melting Pot application? Best Facebook application EVER.

Watchathon - July 10th to July 16th

It's time for the second week of the Watchathon, and I think I picked a rather wide selection again, from animated, big eared mice to that gay cowboy movie.

Rating: For women it hits a bit close to home.

I actually really liked this movie, even though bits of it seemed gratuitous and unnecessary, like perhaps all of Drew Barrymore's scenes. I loved her character, but her storyline was shown so sparingly that you forget she existed until her face pops up on your screen. This was perhaps the biggest problem with the movie as the large number of characters vied for screen time, and it is clear who the victors were.

Each pair of characters represents a core issue when it comes to heterosexual relationships. There was a small representation of gay relationships (and stereotypical gay men), but the overall theme of the movie is the stereotype of women agonizing over Will He Call and the men who passively dump women by never calling, so I accept that perhaps a more substantial gay plot wouldn't have fit very well. That said, I adored that when the gay characters did share the screen, they were the ones giving out truthful and accurate advice on relationships.

And when I say the movie hits a bit close to home, I really mean that. The film is certainly a comedy, however, the subject matter is the truth of what happens in hetero relationships wrapped up in a convenient box. When a guy doesn't call us back, we do agonize over it. We stare at our cell phones, religiously check all forms of messaging, ask our girl friends why he might not be calling, make excuses to ignore the truth that he simply isn't in to us, and we build the guy up so much in our heads that his fall from our heart breaks it. That sounds extremely melodramatic and ridiculous, and I've read a review from at least one man who thinks most of the drama in the movie is fabricated.

Well, it isn't. The only thing that's fabricated is how closely intersected all the characters are despite having solitary story lines. So girls, grab your female friends, and guys, take notes, as He's Just Not That Into You pokes at our crazy mating rituals.

Rating: If you haven't, you should.

It's true that calling Brokeback Mountain "The Gay Cowboy Movie" understates the true story of the movie. Yes, it's about two male cowboys falling in love, but it's clearly about how social pressure can destroy lives and the sadness of how it can prohibit love. That said, I teared up more watching He's Just Not That Into You than this movie, and I find something rather disturbing with that.

I feel that the characters are dynamic and they all mix believably together. My favorite character interactions are between Jack and his wife, Jack and Ennis, and Ennis and his daughter Jr. But I felt rather detached while watching this movie, and I think a lot of it had to do with how much time the film covered. I didn't fall in love with Jack and Ennis at the beginning like I should have, and I think if I had their journey would have been much more poignant and their end much sadder for me.

That said, it seemed that the characters always cried at the appropriate times I would have. I certainly felt like a voyager, and their display of emotions emulating for me. While I think a movie should stir the viewer into an emotional response, at the same time I think it's worth noting that I felt like voyager, that I was watching their lives unfold and knew very clearly that I was watching a story, a story that wasn't mine that I couldn't relate to, that wanted to be told. So I don't think my lack of response is a bad thing, or at least that's what I'm trying to justify to myself, but I certainly think it's a movie that warrants viewing.

Rating: Did I mention I love Anne Hathaway?

I grew up watching Get Smart. I loved it, my parents hated it, but they suffered through it because Nick at Night was better than MTV at Night. That said, I think why I enjoyed the movie so much is because of my fond memories of the original TV show. There were a lot of throw backs that I missed, of course, since I was a child upon watching the original, and I probably would have enjoyed the movie even more if I had.

However, I believe there is enough for people relatively new to the idea of Get Smart to enjoy. The humor is straight forward enough, and given that the Bond series has just gone through a reboot, Get Smart came out at a great time.

Does that mean it is an excellent movie? Not even, but it's good, mindless entertainment.

Rating: I turned it off before it ended.

That's right, I turned off an animated movie before it ended. I love animated movies. I absolutely adore them. If I had to chose one passion in life, it would be animation. This is why I picked up Tale of Despereaux in the first place. It does have a few redeeming qualities, the story is interesting and some of the visuals are amazing (enough that I might like to pick up the children's book). For example, the fairy tale within the story has a very pop up picture book feel to it, the depth that was captured was gorgeous.

But the movie is slow and unexciting. The characters are bland. I can't fathom how a child could sit through this movie, especially since I witnessed child restlessness during Wall-E, a movie far more fast paced than this one. Normally I would stick out movies just to know how it ends, but I just didn't care. And that, friends, proves the lack of proper story telling.

Rating: I ate maybe half the cake.

Visually Marie Antoinette is beautiful. The costumes, the sets, and (my favorite part) the food looked luscious, bright, and artistic. I actually really enjoy period dramas, especially concerning royal courts. Marie Antoinette was decent, but I feel that certain parts of the plots and themes were downplayed in order to present Marie as a precursor to, as the movie synop put it, partying like a rock star.

In order to portray "rock star" Marie, the movie was given a very modern soundtrack, and it worked very well with the movie. I was impressed how well, actually, as it didn't detract from the movie being set 300 years in the past. I also liked that many points of Marie Antoinette's history was suggest rather than spelled out, however, like I said before, I believe this downplaying is the reason why the film isn't more than decent.

I'm not a fan of Kirsten Dunst, but the Marie she was meant to portray was done very well. The women who portrayed her inner circle also performed well as I can remember their characters quite clearly. Everyone else is very much pushed to the back when with the character of Marie, perhaps this was intentional, but I think I may just give Kirsten Dunst the benefit of the doubt for this one.

July 12, 2009

Tango Restaurant in Downtown Seattle

My friend and I are currently on the hunt for the best dessert (coupled with a great dinner) in Seattle, inspired by a Seattle Magazine article from last year. Currently she and I have visited the Cheesecake Factory located across from the convention center and Tango, which is on the corner of Pike and Borne.

Since the Cheesecake Factory is a chain restaurant, I thought I'd share some thoughts about Tango instead.

One of the best things about Tango is on Tuesdays happy hour lasts all day, and the happy hour food is delicious (all their menus are listed on their website). Since Tuesday is coming up here shortly, I highly recommend you grab a friend (or more) and go. My friend and I met up after work at 6pm, and it was fairly quite, which was nice.

We went there primarily for the desert El Diablo, which is a large cube of dark chocolate rub in cayenne pepper floating on a pile of burnt meringue and topped with almonds and cocoa bean chunks. And when I say a cube of dark chocolate, I seriously mean a cube. But the chocolate is really fluffy, like it has been whipped and reshaped into a cube. Regardless, the desert is incredibly rich and we believe is meant to be share between several. We brought home the remains of the cube to my roommate, and even she couldn't finish off the rest. I think it may be a four person undertaking.

Anyway, from the happy hour menu we had the muscles, fundido, gachas de ajo, and the pulled pork. The fundido is absolutely delicious, it's basically toasted bread that you top with melted cheese, sausage, and a slice of apple. Highly recommended. My friend adored the muscles and ate nearly all of them. The pulled pork is paired up with a rather mild salsa that is meant to be wrapped inside of a tortilla, and rather good, too. The gachas de ajo, however, is basically spicy humus. I like humus well enough, but compared to the other three items we ordered, it wasn't good enough.

My friend ordered the house sangria, which we wouldn't really classify as a sangria. I ordered the Tango Colada and was quite pleased. Overall she and I spent roughly $24 per person. We included a larger tip because we gave our good humored waiter some guff, and any wait person willing to put up with us and our weird conversations is deserving of our money.

Great food, delicious desert, good drinks, and great staff. I'd love to go again.

July 8, 2009

Watchathon - July 2nd to July 9th

One of my current jobs is working for a certain video rental chain. In the interest of keeping my job, the only thing I will disclose about my employment is that I have the opportunity to watch at least five movies a week for free. This means I watch lots of movies, sometimes before they're available to rent.

This week's movies are...

Rating: MUST SEE if you care whether or not Luke wanted to tap Leia.

You've probably already heard of this movie considering that Fanboys is a very nerdy movie and this is a rather nerdy blog. For those of you who haven't (seriously, who are you and why are you here?), the main premise of the movie is a group of old high school friends meet up in their early twenties in 1998 and road trip across the US to Skywalker Ranch in hopes of seeing Episode I before it is released about in about six months.

There may be something about cancer and true love and mending friendships, but it pales in comparison to the sheer geeky hilarity worked into each scene. So what if the movie wasn't a critical masterpiece? That wasn't the point. I was amazed and truly enthralled by the little details in the sets and clothing, and I'm sure there was much that I missed considering I'm just a casual Star Wars fan. And that is the point. It became a 90 minute Where's Waldo fest for the fans that fell in love with the franchise back in the 70's and the new generation they passed that love on to. It was made so we can reminisce, at times laugh at ourselves, and overall remember why we still love this franchise, the cash cow that it is, thirty years after its creation.

While the Star Wars allusions will top the list for many Star Wars enthusiasts, for me it was the exploration of the contemporary problems concerning the social acceptability of being a nerd. While this was portrayed quite humorously through the various battles of our Star Wars protagonists and Trekkie villains, one of the main dilemmas for the characters is the immersion into fantasy versus The Real World. I feel that the movie stayed true to its 1998 roots, however, many of the ideals and arguments given still apply to today, eleven years after the setting of the film. Plus, it has the Shatner. And you thought he wouldn't appear this year since he wasn't in the Star Trek reboot. Tsktsk.

Rating: Funny until it became too vengeful for The Goddamn Batman.

I like Anne Hathaway. I may even love her. She portrays sweet and interesting characters, let alone that she gives me an excuse to watch Chris Pine and his pompous accent. However, her charm couldn't save me from this movie. Not even her pseudo-relationship with Chris Pratt, co-star in one of my most favorite TV series ever, could stop my palm smacking my head. By the time her amazing sex dance occurred (if you've seen Fanboys, perhaps you're realizing a trend here?) I simply did not care about how it would end, other than I wanted it to end.

I was initially excited for this movie to come out. I love chick flicks, as a girl I can say this without shame. As a woman in her early twenties watching many of her friends engage and marry, weddings have easily become a steady part of my life (in fact, I just finished being in one in late May and will be traveling for one again in early August). Bridezillas is a pleasure of mine, the melt down of a ghastly bitch is like hot fudge on a very creamy sundae. Perhaps I expected too much, or perhaps the movie expected too much of itself as half way through the warring friends were straining to outdo each other in very over the top and vindictive ways.

I'll be the first to admit that my gender is very catty. We're prone to jealousy in rather backwards ways, so the heated conversations between Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson and drawing the line between their mutual friends, let alone the fiances watching stupidly from the background, is to be expected. Perhaps the movie anticipated this and decided to throw a big curve ball of not only one Bridezilla, but two, and watch them rampage around the city shambles that has become their lives. And we're talking about Mecha Bridezillas, here. The armored souped up ones that have added help your friend lose her job and destroy your friend's relationship during their wedding to their list of finishers.

While the movie leaves a sour aftertaste, it will only help sweeten your current BFF relationship under the mutual understanding that you would never replicate the movie in real life. It's nice to know that your friends have the same moral standards as you do.

Rating: Alan Tudyk isn't the only reason to see this movie.

I can't even begin to describe how absurdly funny Death at a Funeral is. I started laughing a minute into the movie, and the scene fit seamlessly into the plot and just kept rolling. Much of the humor is quiet, lots of one liners, misunderstandings, and just the wrong place at the wrong time. There is plenty of physical comedy present as well, rather unrealistic, but at the same time the overall feel of the movie lends itself to the believability of Alan Tudyk's character on an acid trip for most of the movie, for example.

It's hard for me to write much more without giving away good portions of the movie, and a lot of what I would like to rave about simply would not make sense without any context. For those of you who enjoy Monty Python and Wes Anderson films will most likely enjoy this movie.

Plus Alan Tudyk runs around naked. That's 3 Firefly cast members shirtless down, only 5 more to go.

Rating: Just to say you have.

Teeth is not necessarily a horror film. Okay, for females it isn't a horror film, for males it very much is, and it should be. As a one liner, Teeth is about a penis eating vagina. In more lines, Teeth is about the exploration of modern sexuality. It features A typical male behavior where the woman lays submissive to their advances, sexual and not. Eventually the tables are turned when the female lead adopts a more modern ideology to sex for her own empowerment.

This isn't to say the movie holds an anti-sex and man hating message. The main reason why the "horrible" turn of events occurs is because the characters of both sexes are ill-educated and sheltered, mentally and physically. The female protagonist has no understanding of herself or agency, and the men believe women are to their subjugation rather than their equal. All of this plays out against the backdrop of a small Christian town.

That also isn't to say I didn't giggle every time a guy lost his penis, because I certainly did, but the thematics of the movie extends far more than that. I appreciate the exploration of gender roles, society, history, and what it simply means to be a woman, and I certainly love that it was presented in a rather cheeky penis eating package.