Goodbye, Farewell, Amen

Well, it had to happen sometime. I am going off blogging indefinitely. I have enjoyed these several years of chatting about movies, Netflix, and going to the movies. We have some travel coming up and my wife is about to undergo an operation and my Florida kids are moving back in in a few months so something had to give.

I leave you with Kevin Smith:

A bad day at the movies is better than a good day at work.

Friday This ‘n’ That – Truly Terrible Taglines

Taglines are nice, easy ways to sell your product. Properly handled, they say something complimentary about your product while hopefully being witty at the same time. On the other hand, a poor one can be a source of amusement.

We were driving back from Florida and I saw a restaurant I had never heard of. The name of the restaurant was Millhouse and their tagline was “not just a steakhouse”. My thought was of course “oh, they’re a steakhouse”. Sooo, not such a good tagline though it does convey that they are indeed a steakhouse.

We went cruising on the disappointing Norwegian line but, thanks to targeting, I saw ads for Carnival on the book of faces. “Not what you’d expect from cruise food” is their unfortunate tagline. As what one would hopefully expect from cruise food is really nice steaks and lobster, this is a rather scary tagline. This may be meant to challenge the current perception that cruise food has gone downhill (it has) but is more likely meant to combat the generally accepted maxim that Carnival has the worst cruise food (cheapest cruise = cheapest food?).

Double Impact

Bringing this back to my blog’s raison d’etre, one of my favorite movie taglines is from Double Impact. The movie is just a typical Jean Claude Van Damme vehicle but the plot involves Van Damme as twins separated as infants (a la the 1941 Douglas Fairbanks vehicle, The Corsican Brothers). The tagline is “Twice the Van Damage!”. I occasionally appropriate this line for other purposes.

Next of Kin

Getting back to unfortunate taglines, my best friend Patrick (miss you, bud) and I were seeing some movie back in the late 80s when a preview for Next of Kin came on. It’s a story of a family of hillbillies coming to Chicago to take on the mob. In spite of a game cast (check out a pre-Taken Irish Liam Neeson as a hillbilly or Ben Stiller in a non-comedic role), it is as bad as that sounds. Near the end of the preview, star Patrick Swayze intones “You ain’t seen bad yet but it’s comin'”. Thanks for the summation.

Happy Thanksgiving! A New Turkey Day Tradition!

Brazeiros

With our kids grown and (at the moment) moved out, we have started a new way of celebrating Thanksgiving. This being the third year, it now qualifies as tradition. We go to Knoxville and have a big Thanksgiving lunch at Brazeiros.

Brazeiros

Brazeiros is a very nice churrascaria. A churrascaria is a Brazilian steakhouse, with an endless supply of meats brought to the table. Sadly these have become rather popular in the last decade. I mention sadly because a good churrascaria is amazing but a bad one will put you right off the concept. The difference appears to be the quality of the meats used. Top quality meats such as at Brazeiros (Knoxville) and Chima (Charlotte) ensure a top quality experience. Unfortunately many churrascarias use bargain basement meats (filet mignon that tastes like sawdust for example). The churrascaria on Norwegian Cruise Lines has a $20 upcharge and is just awful as is my local churrascaria, Brasilia.

Mockingjay 2

Every Thanksgiving, my wife and I drive to Knoxville, eat picanha, drink a caipirinha, and have papaya cream with chambord for dessert. We go to the movies afterward (The Hunger Games Mockingjay this year I think) and a motel for the evening. We go to Mckay’s, do some Christmas shopping Friday morning, and return home.

I hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving, with or without family.

Friday This ‘n’ That – Cruising!

Last Friday, I talked a bit about how annoying I found microtransactions and the old upcharge. I was glad that Epic finally dropped the ridiculous 3D upcharge and hope that other chains will follow suit. please pardon me but today is just a bit of a gripe session about cruising.

I was on a wonderful cruise with my wife and friends the other week. Microtransactions are ruining the traditional cruise experience. The entire idea of cruises was that you could pay one, admittedly large, price, bring your bags aboard, and everything was taken care of, from wonderfully fancy meals to entertainment to incredible destinations. Between the hefty cruise fee and the casino winnings, cruise ships made a bundle and proliferated.

Unfortunately, greed is both terrible and unavoidable. As cruise lines grew and destinations were snatched up, the industry not only widely expanded their line of shore excursions but began inventing their own beach parties and buying their own private islands. I did not find this disturbing as it meant that I got to see countries off the otherwise beaten path. In this last case, we got to visit Roatan in Honduras and Belize City, Belize.

In their relentless quest to suck every last dollar out of you, the cruise lines introduced specialty restaurants on board ship. You could still eat at the buffet or enjoy fine dining in the main dining room but now you had the ability to pay a $10-$50 per person surcharge to eat at a steakhouse or international restaurant (French, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian, etc.).

In itself, this doesn’t sound like a bad idea. You can pay extra for a premium experience or continue as you were. Sadly, the reality is that as resources were focused on these new money generators, the other food was left to, well, rot I suppose. The buffets rapidly declined to Shoney’s/Denny’s quality food.

This however was nothing compared to the beating that the main dining experience received. First off the main dining experience was lobster, a cruising tradition. It is now a $10-$20 surcharge even in the main dining rooms but also in some of the upscale restaurants, so you pay a surcharge on top of a surcharge. The next to go were decent steaks, especially actual filet mignon. If you could get a really good steak at the main dining room, why would you pay another $30 per person (Norwegian’s Cagney) to get one at the steakhouse? The super fancy desserts are now reserved for the upscale experiences as well.

I had an absolutely wonderful vacation but I have to say that at times it was in spite of Norwegian Cruise Lines instead of because of them. I’m not sure I would ever sail with them again (many many other problems other than what I talk about here) but the other cruise lines have also declined in quality (Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, etc.) because of the specialty restaurants.

/rantmodeoff

Friday This ‘n’ That – FREE 3D & YouTube Red

Epic Theatre Hendersonville

  • Intriguingly, the Epic Theatre chain has dropped their surcharge for 3D movies. I’m not a big fan of 3D movies as I find that in most movies, it serves simply as a distraction. It is supposed to make things more immersive but I find it has the opposite effect. Having said that, it is nice for patrons to have a choice without the exorbitant upcharge. Bravo, Epic!

YouTube Red

  • Borrowing a page from Hulu’s book, YouTube has introduced YouTube Red, their new ad-free service. It is $10 a month unless purchased through ios (ios charges $13). I already pay for Hulu and Netflix as well as receiving Amazon Prime because of my wife’s joy at receiving packages quickly (you can see why I don’t need cable). I can’t see shelling out for this but I can see it being useful for others (my granddaughter really enjoys toy unboxing videos).
  • This does bring up the possibility of a troubling new trend. Start something for free, get people hooked on content, then crowd the site with ads, finally offer to remove the ads if they pay each month to remove them.
  • Which brings us to microtransactions. They were an anomaly until several companies proved that you could make a fortune giving your game away and then making progress nearly impossible without a tiny tiny purchase of some in-game commodity. Now even games that cost $60 will charge you for planned but not yet released expansions, variant costumes, etc.

Spectre

  • Please pardon me as I’m off to see Spectre!

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

Sorry, no posts this week as I am enjoying a much needed vacation with my darling, ever-so-supportive wife. I’m looking forward to knocking two more countries off my bucket list (Belize and Honduras) and finally sharing our love of cruising with my oldest and dearest friends.

Spectre

I hope to be back to a full slate of posts next week and while I won’t have the opportunity on vacation, I am very much looking forward to seeing Spectre (I already have three FREE tickets for it).

Let’s All Go to the Lobby!

I have a tiny house. Our living room doubles as my movie room. The kids have grown up and moved out (for now) and we don’t really throw parties (except the occasional barbecue) so it isn’t too much of a problem.

Popcorn!

Unfortunately I have way too many posters and tchotchkes. Still that didn’t stop us from picking these up at a local flea market.

Hot Dog!

 

When I saw these, all I could hear in my head was the ‘Let’s All Go to the Lobby’ song.

Soda

We haven’t hung them yet. There is no wall space left but my dear wife is going to attach these to the curtain behind the television.

Friday This ‘n’ That – Vudu

I am lazy. I don’t mind admitting it.

Vudu

While blu-ray picture and sound quality are unsurpassed (at least until 4K becomes established), if I’m going to put on a random movie to watch, I’ll turn on Vudu (or Netflix or Amazon or Hulu) rather than get my lazy butt up and find the blu-ray. This is made easier by having most new movies come with digital copies that work on Vudu.

Wal-Mart has a program where some percentage of the films they sell will automatically come with a copy if you enter your receipt into their savings catcher. This has never worked for me personally but perhaps I’m not purchasing the right films.

What does work is that you can download VUDU togo on your computer and convert DVDs and Blu-Rays (if you have a drive). They charge $2 per movie for blu-ray to HD or DVD to standard. They charge $5 for DVD to HD. This is fine for a movie or two but gets pricy if you have more.

Thankfully, Wal-Mart will give you half-price if you convert ten or more titles. Conversion is easy if a bit time consuming. The time consuming portion is that there are a ton of titles not supported. Still it is a nice tool when it works.

Vudu also makes it easier to watch a marathon without getting up.

Alien

Pardon me but I’m queueing up the first Alien movie.

Going Outback for Some Wild Ginger

Obviously I normally just blog about movie, it’s my reason for being. On Sunday I ate so well that I just felt like sharing my the yumminess I savored.

Wild Ginger

 

For lunch, we went to Wild Ginger, a VietNamese restaurant in Arden. They primarily serve Pho. to which I’m addicted. One of the reasons I love it is because it is so customizable.

“PHO is a Vietnamese Noodle Soup which is generally served with a choice of beef, chicken or vegetarian. The soup includes rice noodles and is often served with fresh basil or mint leaves, fresh lime and bean sprouts.”

The Pho, which is delicious by itself, is served with a bowl of fresh bean sprouts, basil leaves, lime wedges, and jalapeno slices so you can adjust the flavor of the soup to perfection. They also have chili sauce, sriracha, peanut sauce, and hoisin sauce.

The picture above is of the ridiculously diabetic-coma-inducing dessert Halo Halo. It consists of sweet beans, sugar palm, flan, corn flakes, and ice cream. If you have a Pho restaurant in your town, you should try some Pho but share the Halo Halo.

Outback Steakhouse

 

I typically despise chain restaurants for much the same reasons as I despise buffets: You invariably get lowest common denominator food. Is there any more generic, anti-Italian Italian restaurant than Olive Garden? Can you make seafood any blander than Red Lobster (yes, the biscuits are good but they are easily made at home)?

The exception for me though is Outback steakhouse. The benefit and deficit to a chain restaurant is that whatever you order is pretty much the same no matter which restaurant you order it in. The steaks at Outback are consistently cooked the way I like them (medium rare) and even their cheap steak is fairly decent.

I’d love to say that we went for steaks but my wife needed a drink. Neither my wife nor I are big drinkers (more than one a month, less than one a week). We both love the Wallaby Darned, basically Outback’s version of a Peach Bellini. Although it isn’t usually on the menu, we order it Down Under, which is Outback speak for ‘with an extra shot’.

I can’t speak for your Outback of course but the Hendersonville one is filled with the friendliest staff from the manager on down. We’re always seated promptly and taken very good care of. I normally take care of everyone so it’s nice to be pampered every once in a while and that’s the way I feel at my Hendersonville Outback.

Anyway back to movies tomorrow. Pardon the digression.

 

Goodbye HBO Now

HBO Now

I really enjoyed my trial subscription of HBO Now. Yes, that is past tense. We cut the cord a long time ago so it was really nice to finally get an opportunity to watch Game of Thrones, Last Week with John Oliver, and the rest. Here’s the problem: since we have Netflix and Hulu, the only thing we have time for on HBO is Game of Thrones and John Oliver and for that we pay double what we pay for Netflix, which has essentially an unlimited supply of movies.

Last episode (as I write this, not as you read it), Game of Thrones once again used rape as a lazy plot device. /sigh. Controversy generates numbers and free advertising and polarizes viewers.

I may be in my 50s but I am still a teenage boy at heart. I enjoy the gratuitous nudity in Game of Thrones and elsewhere. I also enjoy Game of Thrones gritty realism in terms of violence.

Enjoying those is somewhat titillating but I don’t enjoy rape scenes at all. Rape should never be trivialized. It is not that the subject is taboo or sacrosanct. Murder may seem a much worse crime than rape but that is not the way I see it. Statistically speaking, you are very unlikely to know someone who was murdered. You absolutely know many people who have been sexually assaulted, even if they don’t discuss it with you.

The most misogynistic part of this is that the character was raped so that Theon can get on with his storyline. The rape of a well-known and somewhat main female character was a catalyst, a plot device to spur a male character on.

With Peter Jackson’s Tolkien series over, Game of Thrones had a monopoly on the fantasy genre but just because you are the only game in town does not mean we have to play along.

So Game of Thrones will no longer be served at court. We will catch clips of John Oliver on YouTube. Goodbye HBO Now. While it is not likely to have any impact in this case, always vote with your dollars. Never support, financially or otherwise, a harmful cause.