2010-09-13

Food Review: American Pie Pizza Co.

My wife and I are like pizza serial killers. We started modestly in the immediate home area, devouring what we saw everyday. With each successful kill our confidence grew and we slowly expanded our range further, finally reaching Tampa. Our first stop was American Pie Pizza Company located at 9331 Adamo Drive Tampa, FL 33619

The Adamo location is one of the remaining five franchise restaurants (out of the eleven or so - some holes in press releases on their site) that sprouted up across central Florida starting in 2002. The chain seemed destined for greatness of at least Beef O'Brady's proportions. Locally, Orlando Sentinel's Scott Joseph championed the establishment in a 2006 review and he and his readers gave American Pie three Foodie Awards in 2006: Best Pizza - Reader's Choice, Best Pizza - Critic's Choice and Best Take Out.  John McCain (along with Joe Liberman and Mel Martinez - wow.) gave the franchise some national attention when he visited in 2008 while running for President. The chain was also voted "Best Pizza" in 2007 and 2008 in the AOL Citysearch Survey. They rocked it so hard, this pizza place in the mid-aughts.

Those heady days are gone now. Five American Pie Pizza Company restaurants remain. We did not realize it was anything more than a local establishment just outside of town when we visited. Entering into an empty restaurant, resplendent with decor found in the most ironic college student's dorm room, we floundered for a moment before the staff realized we were there. The Teenage Server (T.S.) seemed a little...new. Her heart was in right place though and/or my blood sugar was too low to care about incompetence.

Part of the ritual is to always order garlic knots first. T.S. informed us they were FREE because we sat down for a slice. We got four knots with thick, chunky sweet sauce. Appearing to be more homemade than other establishments, they were also about twice the size. They were crispy on the outside, soft and warm on the inside. The garlic was too light, but the sauce had a nice balance of spices accenting the overall sweetness.

We always order some variation of vegetarian pizza (read: wife does not eat meat), either the "vegetarian" option or by custom toppings. This choice seems to reduce the odds of a greasy pizza, but increases the chances of a soggy center. We went with the medium (16") Veggie (black olives, mushrooms, green peppers, onions and tomatoes) and waited for the results.

Another bonus of the night happened moments later when T.S. informed us she "ran out" of medium crust. So we got a large pizza (19") for the price of a medium! This snafu may have made T.S. the recipient of a minor berating from Polo Shirt Guy later (not a fan of management who does such things in view of customers).

While waiting for the pizza three other people came in to eat and the delivery guy was in and out at least twice. Our pizza arrived in a timely manner.

T.S. made some awkward attempts to serve us the first slices. I fought hunger pangs to keep from accidentally devouring her arm along with the pizza.

The pizza toppings were finely chopped and scattered evenly within an inch of the crust. The finer chop  married the topping's flavors with the sauce and helped avoid chunks falling off. The crust was crisp with no soggy middle, allowing for optimal folding and munching.

Overall, this was the best pizza we had tried so far in the greater Brandon area. Perhaps it is better the little chain stayed somewhat local in scope, it gives those five remaining towns some bragging rights.

Some Specials: 
  • $1 slice pizza Wednesday. 
  • If Rays get home run, you get free draft beer.
  • Thursday cheap beer and $2 slice night.
  • 2 Mile Tuesday - Run two miles with staff & fellow customers at 6:30pm (no discounts, but community creating fun!)

Random Notes
  • Another potentially great thing about American Pie Pizza Company is the plethora of other menu items. I'm looking forward to trying calzone.
  • Interview with Corey Balzer, Owner of American Pie Pizza Company by PMQ

2010-08-07

10 Fake Foursquare Badges (#fk4sqbadges)

Some badges Foursquare should consider. Special thanks to 4squarebadges.com for the reference material.

El Baño
Badge message: You've visited 20 different restrooms! Whatever you did in there, just tell us you washed your hands when you were done!  

How to get it:  Do a search on Foursquare for "restroom".  You need 20 checkins at different places tagged restroom to get this badge.

Twister

Badge message: You braved a tornado to give a shout-out while huddled under a mattress in a bathtub.

How to get it: Send a shoutout to a friend on foursquare.  The shout has to include "OMG Tornado destroying house LOL" in the text to count.

SuperMax
Badge message: You’ve "Checked in" at a Supermax prison!

How to get it: Do a search on Foursquare for "supermax". Commit multiple, heinous felonies during a cross-country road-trip culminating in your arrest. Get sentenced to multiple life terms to be served at a maximum security prison. 


Shenanigans
Badge message: We know you've created an alternate check-in point for a location that already exist,  created check-in points for places no person could ever set foot, and/or checked-in to places you had not visited! You're account will be terminated shortly.

How to get it: Be a Foursquare asshole.


Underpass
Badge message:  Looks like you’ve found 3 of your city’s acceptable areas for society's discarded to gather and cling to life!

How to get it: Do a search on Foursquare for "underpass", volunteer at a soup kitchen and ask around, or  follow a parole officer as he/she checks in with registered sex offenders. You need 3 check-ins at different places tagged underpass to get this badge.

Iowa 4 Now*
Badge message:  That’s 25+ check-ins in Iowa for you!

How to get it: Check in 25x anywhere in the the Hawkeye State. 
*May inadvertently complete Agoraphobe badge.

Cthulu
Badge message:  Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtag!

How to get it: Cannot be explained.


Con-Air
Badge message:  You put the bunny back in the box! Crank the Lynyrd Skynyrd!

How to get it: A combo bonus badge. Just unlocked both the SuperMax & JetSetter badges and this will be unlocked too.


Badge message: No Swarm Badges for you! You like it safe and quiet yet yearn for to be socially networked!

How to get it: Check-in 100x to the same location (and no others) in a year's time.


!

Badge message: !!

How to get it:  !!!

2010-05-31

Fast Food Review: Chick-Fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Chick-Fil-A's Spicy Chicken Sandwich began rolling out to the masses today with the giveaway of a free sandwich to those who made a reservation. The store here in Brandon was all smiles and excitement about the new menu item and I was happily surprised by the spicy and appropriately tasty sandwich.

There was a mood of giddiness in the air as the various Chick-Fil-A staff, team leaders, managers and regional people scurried about the restaurant. They saw me coming and called out I had the look of someone getting a spicy chicken sandwich (maybe it was my cool straw hat). Some of what I perceived as the hire ups on hand to help with the rollout were very interested in the reactions of the people getting the sandwiches.

All were warned the sandwich was for those who liked spicy foods and not for meek. I balked at this warning, seeing it as a standard marketing ploy anytime something "spicy" hits the menu. The second question of if I wanted the sandwich sans pepper jack cheese caught me off guard. The sandwich normally would come looking like the standard chicken sandwich (two pickles, chicken breast, & bread) but with the added cheese for an extra kick. Though as an added twist/consideration on the "not for the faint of taste buds" crowd it was being offered both ways. Given the amount of salsa I consume on a regular basis and the fact I usually put hot sauce on both the sandwich and fries, I went "all in" with the cheese on top.

I removed the pickles and ate those first; it's how I roll. I then peeled back the barely melted cheese to try a bite of the chicken directly. The warnings were not just for show, the breading on the breast was particularly spicy. Comparing it to just pouring hot sauce on the regular sandwich the official Spicy Chicken carried a slightly less intense heat, but still higher than I would have expected for a mass marketed sandwich. Additionally, the spicy breading gave the breast a balanced flavor and heat, unlike when hot sauce is applied. I would normally put mayo on the sandwich, but due both to the desire to gauge the heat and flavor, as well as the fact the cheese was already on it, I went without mayonnaise.

The cheese annoyed me. The rule in fast food land seems to be "Spicy = Pepper Jack cheese" and came across as a psychological gimmick cheapening the outstanding overall product. The cheese added nothing but negative nutritional info to the sandwich and, despite being a spicy cheese, seemed to mitigate some of the spiciness of the chicken. It also caused a KFC Double Down flashback - very bad association.

The Spicy Chicken will cost about $.30 more than the basic chicken sandwich. I was told this was due to the breading and seasoning, but seems to really be about the addition of cheese. Chick-Fil-A has updated the nutritional info on their site with the Spicy Chicken sandwich (both Regular and Deluxe versions).

Overall the Spicy Chicken Sandwich is my new go-to sandwich at Chick-Fil-A, (I'll probably splurge for the Deluxe version with lettuce and tomato too). The franchise delivered a long overdue menu item deserving of it's title. Despite my personal dislike of the cheese, the overall product is a winner.

2010-04-17

Beware the KFC Double Down, My Son

Beware the Double Down, my son. It is said to have two thick and juicy boneless white meat filets of a chicken (Original Recipe® or Grilled - perchance one of each?), two pieces of pig's bacon, two melted slices of cow's cheese (Monterey and pepper jack) and it oozes The Colonel's Sauce! And no bun!  No bun my son.

Though only available nationwide since April 12, the KFC Double Down has already achieved the folkloric infamy of a cautionary tale. Like Dumb Hans I blatantly disregarded the warnings of the dangerous foodstuff, naively ventured into KFC territory and called out the creature's name into the mouth of the drive-thru speaker box. I casted aside the combo meal option ($6.99 - potato wedges and a drink) but was blindsided and relieved of $5.34 for the "sandwich"; the wound weighed heavy. Verily I wrestled with the beast. Like so many beast of lore, the horrifying truth needed not hyperbole - the Double Down actually looked like it's promotional ads. It was handled easily enough, the paper pocket made it manageable with one hand and the chimera did not fall apart as I ate. The signature aftertaste of KFC chicken, the peppery cheese and sauce shouted o'er the greasy din like a manatee's snout huffing air in a slow moving, brackish river. Only a paper bag was available to help absorb the greasy goatee. No bun was expected, but no napkins!? No napkins my son!  I could feel my blood pressure rise with the torrent of sodium (1380 mgs) and a little rush from a dopamine and norepinephrine meat-induced high. Like so many disgusted fools before me, the KFC Double Down won the day.

Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Technomic, a food industry consulting firm, explained in a recent Salon.com interview that the KFC Double Down-strosity's target audience is, "...working-class consumers that have less discretionary income and are looking for a very satisfying meal." He goes on to state it is to be a fuel source for lawn crews ("Timing-wise, this is the start of the lawn-care season... so this could be fuel for that labor effort."), ditch diggers, pool boys and manual laborers. Speaking as a manual laborer with low discretionary income, the KFC Double Down initially gave me sticker shock, mounds of meatyness be damned.  I was trying this out of curiosity, to experience the forbidden, to test my mettle and tell my tale. The amount of self loathing required to choose this abomination over other fast food is indeed a horrifying thought.

KFC Double Down Nutritional Info:


Serving Size (gms) 241
Calories 540
Calories from Fat 290
Total Fat (gms) 32
Saturated Fat (gms) 10
Trans Fat (g) 0.5
Cholesterol (mgs) 145 
Sodium (mgs) 1380
Carbohydrates (gms) 11
Dietary Fiber (gms) 1
Sugars (gms) 1
Protein (gms) 53

2010-03-02

Martin Lawrence Keeps Busy While Bad Boys III Contract Negotiated

Variety is reporting Martin Lawrence is going back to the fat-suit well to star in what, "... the filmmakers don't want...to be titled 'Big Momma's House 3'.

Variety says:
In the latest adventure, FBI agent Malcolm Turner and his 17-year-old nephew, Trent, go undercover at an all-girls performing arts school after Trent witnesses a murder. Posing as Big Momma and Charmaine, they must find the murderer before he finds them.
 The original movie grossed $117.6 million domestically and $56.4 million overseas, the second $70.2 million domestically and $68.1 million internationally. So we in the US can blame the rest of the world for the third installment (alt working title: Big Momma: Electric Squeakening).

If Hollywood is going to default to weak threequels and reboots, then I humbly request we forget about the fat suit movies and remake Def Jam's 1997 How To Be A Player. It's like a time capsule, portraying a time when beepers and carphones were the best personal tech, the internet was a weird, strange novelty not utilized by much anybody, and chauvinism was rampant. Just begging for an update.

The film follows revolves around Dray (Bill Bellamy), a young man living a player's dream and his friends as Dray makes his rounds. Dray's sister, Jenny (Natalie Desselle) and her friend Katrina (Mari Morrow) are studying Dray for a sociology paper and seek to expose him  by laying a trap at a party in Malibu. The film is presented almost as an episode of PBS Nature, as Dray drops pimp wisdom on his friends. Bernie Mac steals the show as an asthmatic cuckold named Buster.



Insights into the Game from Movie:
  • Sisters girlfriend and married women are a players dream.(Assumably your sister's married girlfriends are some sort of holy grail.)
  • Cardinal rule #1: Never, ever mess with a girl in your building, you'll live to regret it.
  • Players never get busted.
  • A women, who is a player herself, wants to be played, has to be played, needs to be played in order for the continuation of the man/woman thing. (Add a flamboyant gay character!)
  • Light skinned brothers were in from 1986-89.
  • Chess is like a game of strategy, before you get to the strategy you got to size up your competition.
  • The woman should have a pager, not the player.
  • Find the nerdiest girl in the room and treat her likes she's Hallie Barry & all the other girls will think they'll be treated the same way.
  • A player will adapt to a hostile environment.
  • You're probably wondering, 'what's with the ice?' If you don't know, you better ask somebody.
  • A player never gets busted.
There's so much to reinterpret! How does the 21st century player roll? What changes have been made to The Cardinal Rules? Who could possibly replace Bernie Mac? or Gilbert Godfrey? Inquiring, sheltered, suburban kids with no understanding of machismo need to learn this stuff much more than they need to see Big Momma Goes to Magnet School.

    2010-02-24

    Celebrate Black History Month with Walmart: Buy Timberlake & Bublé for $9?

    A little disclaimer: These photos depict the way things were when I found them. I did not set up these pictures. It is possible Timberlake's and Bublé's albums are coincidentally $9 and were placed in the wrong area. If Ke$ha had been there too, I would have known they were serious. I'm gonna go listen to some Muddy Waters now.


     

     




    2010-02-07

    Take My Wife, Please! - Super Bowl 44 Ads

    It's about power - who's got it, who knows how to use it. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a Louboutin stamping on a man's face— forever.

    I am now two months away from my one year wedding anniversary. My balls and spine have not yet been removed, sealed up in jars and handed over to my wife. I can leave the house (without express written permission from my wife) to hang out with my underemployed friends. I have occasionally accompanied my wife shopping, yet I don't hide out in the electronics department watching sports. I love Big Wife. Still I feel for my married brethren. The festering frustration of emasculated men all over these United States has finally spilled over into the mainstream consciousness via Super Bowl ads.



    Poor bastard. Men need to rise up to turn the tide of power back in our favor. We put up with a lot of crap and get so little in return. It's time to make a stand, preferable by re-appropriating some compensating cliche symbol of a simpler time and of hope for the future.



    Man's last stand? Let's not exaggerate here, Dodge. A shiny muscle car is not an end in itself, it's a means to get to an end- like a man cave at home or a secluded hunt camp in Georgia. Your hot wife can still be in the car as a passenger (a nagging, back-seat driving passenger! Amiright, fellas?!). Realistically she will be deciding where you drive "your" car. Like to the next Matrix Convention. He won't want to go. He will mention the post-apocalyptic, marauding gangs in search of Bridgestone tires, but she will just tell him to not worry his pretty little head about it.



    See how the entire gang is like, "Aw, crap! Now this incredibly hot woman is our problem!" They know the nagging is going to start any second. If only they had those sweet, sweet tires instead of a woman. Smart guy, the driver of the car. He's a free man, driving the car he wants to drive with the last form of currency left on the planet wrapped around all four wheels.

    The odds of that scenario playing out are slim, which is why a car isn't Man's Last Stand. It's really Bud Light. This magical hops elixir can give any man power over almost all women. Fellow men will welcome you as hero. Only a woman with intense control issues and a savior complex would be able to resist the one who wields the beer.



    So fight on my brahs (they've even destroyed our slang with homonyms!) and find what solace you can in your fast cars, man caves, and beer consumption. Work towards a better future for all men. Raise up your children to be lone wolves, if it is men you wish had the diversified portfolios.



    Carry on wayward sons, there will be peace when you are done. Once you've accomplished instilling your children with classic male societal roles celebrate your long "Journey to Comfort" by taking a nice, relaxing shower with Dove body wash. Cuz you deserve it, man.

    Other stray observations:

    Meanwhile the German's had a little schadenfreude fun by playing into ultra-conservative fears by offering us a glimpse into some sort of Liberal Fascist regime where Cheap Trick songs have been reworked. Beware the Green Police! Buy an Audi! I mean, damn. I expect all Tea Party members to be driving Audi's by Tuesday.

    • Mini Kiss + Kiss = Excellent.
    • If I go to Denny's and spill a free Grand Slam on my pants, then I'll enter the Dockers contest.
    • The Intel commercial would have been funny if a they actually had a sentient robot.
    • David Letterman FTW.
    • Yes dear, we'll go to Universal Studios once they open the new Harry Potter park, but I'm pre-gaming with Bud Light.
    • Somebody at Bud Light must have read my review from last year... T-Pain finally made an appearance as the man putting the last nail in the auto-tune coffin.
    • Male influence hasn't disappeared yet: 1) Fiddling beaver in hot tub with human women!? 2) GoDaddy.com's usual tomfoolery. 3) Free Willy Bachelor Party. 4) Doritos. 5) Meagan Fox in the tub.

    2010-02-04

    Consumer Report: Wandering the Super Target

    Tooth Fairy 2: Cupid's Last ChanceBashing my head against a desk wondering why fax machines existed was getting kind of old, and I needed to get out of the house. My wife and I went to (Super) Target to wander around and take in the sites. We perused the clearance items for low priced Snuggie blankets and then moved on to the toy section.

    The toy section is very telling of the current state of pop culture's future.Those isles should contain the cherished memories of the next generation waiting to be raped by Hollywood for a quick buck. So what did we find?

    Girls: Barbie (Basic Line), My Little Pony (huh), Strawberry Shortcake!?, Rainbow Bright!? What year is it? Boys: Legos, assorted Marvel/DC/GI Joe action figures...same old, same old. Little Kids: a line of throwback toys from the 1960's. Toys my mom (and me and my brother too) played with and still has on a shelf. The toy market is collapsing in upon itself. Amid a late 1980's/early 1990's resurgence in clothing the raping of the same time period's toy lines for new movie ideas is causing a feedback loop in Toyville. I can predict the only movie idea that will be left by 2020: Webkinz: The Movie.

    We have the most fun in the little kid section with the learning toys. They got 3D View-Masters, cat synthesizer keyboards, and Leapfrog stuff. My wife being a reading teacher noticed the Leapfrog Alphabet Pal teaches phonemes. The sounds letters make more/less. So we of course (in keeping with the time honored tradition began with Speak & Spell) immediately tried to make it say dirty words. We went straight for the F-bomb (/f/+/u/+/k/). Yes, the quality is poor. No fancy phones in this family.

    video

    Leapfrog Techs: 1; Childish Adults 0. After you get the first two letters, the caterpillar interrupts with a giggle and, "That tickles!", followed by the the last phoneme! Frustrated we tried a word a homonym - damn. It censored it the same way! How is our imaginary son, Jubjub, supposed to learn how to say he went to the Hoover Dam? What do beavers build, Jubjub? Da-thattickles-m! Guess little Jubby will have to learn those words the old fashioned way: from mommy and daddy's heated "discussion".

    We moved on to the holiday section. Valentine's Day rules this week, though St. Patty's Day has infected the $1 bin at the entrance. Do kids still exchange V-day cards in class or has the practice been PC-ed out due to sexual harassment suits? The cards were still for sale, so I guess not. The other usual candy and card suspects were all around in red and pink. Then I found the Reese's Tiger, who plays a booty-shakin' tune, I call it the "Reese's Cup V-day Booty Dance".

    video

    Nothing says "I love Reese's peanut butter cups and jingles from Chester Cheetah knock-offs telling the me to buy more of them" like this tune. I expect a remix, people.

    Overall, it was a good hour or so spent in the land of consumer goods. Now back to preparing Fu-thattickles-cking fax cover sheets by bashing my head against the da-thattickles-mn keyboard.

    2010-01-21

    I Started A Flickr Group: Chickens on Railroad Tracks

    Chickens. Railroad tracks. Chickens on railroad tracks.I decided to start a Flickr group devoted to all media featuring chickens on railroad tracks after looking over some awesome photography by good friend Michael J. McCrystal and seeing the eclectic groups inviting him to submit his photos. Yes, there are groups for brick roads, family beach portraits, smurfs, chickens, trains, and just about every other damn thing you can think of, but none focused exclusively on chickens (preferably alive) on (or near) railroad tracks.

    The majestic chicken strutting cockily amongst the confluence of man-made ironworks and nature's wood, the very thoroughfares of large, powerful locomotives arouses feelings of the sublime. Cocks. Steel. Wood. Locomotives through a tunnel.

    Maybe I should start a Flowers in Gaping Holes in the Ground group too?

    So if you happen to have any pictures meeting the aforementioned criteria, submit them! I even took the time to create pun related titles for members (chuggachugganteclairses), moderators (chickentrackers), and of course admins (BallastlessCocks). Join today or the last hour of my life was devoted to overworking a simple joke.


    2010-01-14

    Movie Review: Extraordinary Measures

    Don't hope for a miracle. Tell it to get off your plane.I went into this moving knowing I would come down with a case of the warm fuzzies. The cheesetastic tagline alone was a neon sign of "uplifting family drama". Being looked upon as such a movie, CBS Films did a good job of entertaining and educating the audience. You're mom will love it.

    The "based on a true story" film, directed by Tom Vaughan (Super Grass, What Happens in Vegas) is about John Crowley's (Brendan Fraser) and his wife Aileen's (Keri Russell) quest to find a cure to a rare genetic disorder, which two of their three children have, called Pompe disease. Fraser turns to Dr. Robert Stonehill (Executive Producer, Harrison Ford) who is working on an advanced form of an enzyme to counteract the effects of the disease.

    Stylistically the movie was CBS doing Disney design. A clean, well lighted world where every room, office, and park is perfectly manicured and noticeably a set; not a place where people live, work and risk. A PG world without grit or sharp edges helping to enfold the audience in the safety of order and structure to offset any discomfort felt seeing children with tracheostomy tubes in motorized wheelchairs (a Hollywood way of showing illness akin to an oxygen tube while sitting in a bed). All accompanied by a soundtrack of orchestral swelling, queuing the audience to the proper emotional response.

    Fraser's Ivy-League-Caring-Every-Dad who gambles the limited time he has with his kids to try and save them is well within Fraser's abilities and he is a good fit for the role, evoking a version of his Ben Sullivan from Scrubs. The characters business prowess makes him the straight man to Ford, who the audience is told is "brilliant", "eccentric", and "a loose cannon". He also listens to the rock music loudly while working! But is he a big softy deep down? Only time can tell.

    The duo start a research team but soon needs to sell out to Big Pharm to get the funding required to accomplish their goals. Enter potential devils - Derek Webster, Jared Harris, & Patrick Bauchau. Seeing them all sitting at the table together was all that was required to accomplish the idea of soul selling. Watching Ford, and particularly Fraser deal with the consequences and pay offs of the deal compose the last act of the film.

    While overdone in style and having a conclusion you knew going into the theater, the fact it was based off actual events, the shortened time, and appropriate casting made for an enjoyable, albeit forgettable, time. 3 out of 5 stars.

    Other observations:
    • Sometimes it was necessary to put up what part of the country the characters were in as they traveled around. Other times, like when I can see the exit sign that says "Chicago" it wasn't necessary to tell me they were in Chicago.
    • Keri Russell was a hot mom.
    • Pompe disease has an incident rate of 1:40,000 - more info
    Obvious Product Placement:
    • Ford vehicles: old & new, car & actor
    • Budweiser
    • Lowe's
    • Genzyme Corp.
    • Not so obvious: Nike (parts filmed at HQ in Oregon)

    2010-01-13

    Movie Review: The Lovely Bones

    Of this much we can be sure: It was the 1970s. A movie with an advertised synopsis telling us, "...a young girl who has been murdered...", spends most of the first act (half an hour or more?) establishing the time period with various, attentive details with the should-be-dead-girl walking around alive. How a movie based on a book can get so lost in itself in confounding.

    The movie, directed by Peter Jackson, hits some plot points in common with the novel, but grinds off all the sharp edges, leaving us in a PG-13 mess. Jackson left the audience to imagine what was done to wide-eyed, whispering Susie (Saoirse Ronan), reducing the found evidence from body parts to just blood. Yet it was necessary to have us watch Susie's father (Wahlberg) get beat savagely by a high school jock & watch the killer's death blow for CGI blow. An affair between the detective and the mother is ever so slightly hinted upon, but never actually occurs, and we learn nothing of the detective or serial killer George Harvey's (Stanley Tucci giving a nice, creepster showing) background, leaving them as both stock characters. There was time for an extended montage of funny with Gramma Sarandon, though!

    The glimpses we catch of life after Susie's death are like ripples from a skipping stone on a still lake. No depth at each point, only the faintest disturbance. The film fails to decide just what sort of movie it wants to be, drawing themes of loss & obsession, as well as gimmicks, from various supernatural movies and shows (What Dreams May Come, 6th Sense, hell I half expected Beetlejuice) and turning them into a wet-noodle by which the audience is repeatedly thrashed.

    Other observations:

    So heaven is spending eternity with other victims of your murderer, in a place that looks like where you were murdered? I thought Hell was other people.

    What's the difference between Heaven & the in-between place? More people, less surrealist backgrounds.

    How many years did it take for Susie to move on, exactly? Their were 24 rolls of film, so 1 a month to develop would make it two years, yet more time than that seemed to have passed for little sister Lindsey.

    The forced sense of cosmic justice when Harvey dies. Some people in the audience cheered (ugh) because the universe finally gave him his comeuppance - after killing 9 people over 13 years.

    Story does provide a sinkhole business model for Tampa Bay area to consider given recent events.

    2010-01-05

    ESPN Gives Sports the Full Captain Eo

    ESPN and the mouse pulling its strings are launching a 3D network; seriously. Following a year filled with 3D films, (more slated for 2010-11!) Disney must have felt the time was right to reach out into the sports world and overhaul the boring HD flatness, because munching on snacks and buzzing on beer is so lame in 2D, we want 3D glasses strapped to your heads!

    The network, ESPN 3D, is slated to have 85 live sporting events in the first year, starting June 11 with a World Cup match between South Africa & Mexico. Other events: 2011 BCS National Championship Game, various college basketball & football games, 25+/- World Cup matches, and the Summer X-Games.

    How this will add anything to the games is not clear. How much more interesting will any of the games really get in 3D? If everything is viewed moving horizontally, from a predominantly zoomed out vantage point, where's the wow factor? Will ESPN add additional camera crews to get ground level, in-your-face views just so players can poke their hands at the camera, and occasionally throw things at the audience?

    The special effects may be left to the commentators and maybe the cheerleaders. They could play with yo-yos and have laser effects around them. Maybe a furby/butterfly mascot to wave cutely at the screen before commercial breaks.

    "This is a turning point for 3-D," Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro told USA Today.

    My stomach is already queasy thinking about it.

    Below is a artistic interpretation of how ESPN 3D will "change the world", starting with evil 2D overlords.

     
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