Victoria: November 2005 Archives

So since I have sprained my ankle (or something...I refuse to visit the doctor), I have been practically immobile since we got back from NC. I have wrapped my ankle up in a big roll of ACE bandage. When I fell, I not only hurt my ankle, but I bruised my foot on both sides and the top, and the bruises are a brilliant purple. So not only does it hurt to walk on it and move it, but it hurts to wrap it, and it hurts to lay it on it in almost every direction.

Since I had nothing else to do, I joined Netflix, and omigod I have spent like 30 hours on that site so far, even though I have not yet gotten my first dvd. I spent all that time rating the movies and making my 80 movie long queue. I know some of you have Netflix already, and I friend-requested you.

I am also watching movies I raided from the roommates' dvd collections. So far: Closer, which I didn't really like, although I liked Clive Owen in it. I am not a big fan of Clive Owen, looks-wise. I usually refer to him as the poor man's Dylan McDermott. But I liked him better in this movie than anything else I have seen him in. Love Actually, which was really cute and I liked a lot, despite being heartwarming crap. I want to move to England, where you can make movies that have adults saying swear words genially to children and no one is offended. Also I like movies where Liam Neeson is allowed to keep his real accent. I realized from this one that those movies are rare. And I watched Chasing Amy again, and realized that Ben Affleck was total crap in that movie. The only thing that saves it is the dialogue, and Jason Lee. Oh young, hot Jason Lee, before you grew that horrid mustache and became Earl... how I miss you.

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Mike and I went to the Outer Banks, North Carolina with his family for the Thanksgiving holiday. The pop5 crew will be jealous to know that we went to High Cotton and the Sunset Grill - also, another restaurant that I'd never been to before that was very good. Also, I twisted my ankle, which was not so good. We also took pictures on the beach. There were tons of shells. These are my pictures, but Mike will have some up here later. Too bad we are leaving tomorrow. Now it's time to prepare for Christmas...

Beach Path

Fence

Ocean Foam

Horseshoe Crab

Mike the Photographer

Found: Shell

Another Found Shell

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I have been a vegetarian for 18 years, or, in the words of the rest of the pop5 crew, I "need to join the food chain." I have slowly been getting into eating many of the new soy products made to resemble meat; I have been trying new ones every few weeks. They are all Morningstar Farms products, because my first good experience with veggie burgers was one of theirs:

Morningstar Farms Spicy Black Bean Burger

These are really good, and they totally changed my expectations of what a "fake meat" product could be like. Before this, my experience wth veggie burgers was limited to the kind of Gardenburger/mushroom and breadcrumb type affairs, which in my opinion are nasty and disgusting. Anyway, these are good both with typical burger accoutrements, and in a southwest style, with salsa. To me, they taste a little more of Indian spices than standard southwest, but it works.

Morningstar Farms Bacon Strips

The next thing I tried was the Veggie Bacon strips, which I had heard were pretty good from several people. In my opinion, the Veggie strips are more of a bacon-flavored cracker than an actual bacon imitation. They do taste like bacon (like the similarly all-soy Bac'o Bits), but the texture is flat and crispy, with none of the chewiness the fat provides real bacon. This is ok with me; I always liked crispy bacon better than chewy. They are also a little temperamental to cook. I have discovered that the best way to cook them is to microwave them on a paper plate, or a plate with a paper towel beneath the strips, for slightly less time than the package recommends. They tend to stick to the paper, but if you wait for them to cool, you can peel them off. The Bacon strips also get high marks from me. I usually eat them as a quick and tasty snack to get more protein.

Morningstar Farms Honey Mustard Chik'n Tenders

I just recently tried the Honey Mustard flavored Chik'n tenders, which I unfortunately cannot recommend. I think the main problem with them was the honey mustard flavoring, which didn't provide any real flavor, but did smell kind of nasty. The actual strips didn't taste like much of anything but breading. The fake "chik'n" was chewy, but almost totally tasteless. Although I didn't like them in this context, I could imagine getting some not-honey-mustard-flavored ones and maybe trying to make a "chik'n" parmegiana. I think using them in a recipe that provided a lot of flavor for them might be the best way to go.

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OK, so last week, Mike and I rented "George Romero's Land of the Dead," and while I was thrilled to see yet another zombie movie (particularly one with a social commentary subtext - was anyone else rooting for the zombies when they took down the luxury apartments??), this movie exposed me to some zombie lore that raised more questions than it answered. Specifically...

1) So this is the first zombie movie that I have seen that posits that, post-zombie apocalypse, everyone who dies, even if they are not bitten by a zombie, will become a zombie. So everyone will need to die twice: once as a human, once as a zombie. Now I am a little confused. Remember the guy in the beginning who got bit, but before he turned, he shot himself? So does he become a zombie because he just died once? Or, because he got infected but didn't yet turn, does he only need to die the one time? Does it matter that he shot himself in the head (and thus destroyed the brain) - would he become a zombie if he had killed himself without destroying his brain?

2) There were lots of scenes (that Mike covered his eyes for) where the zombies were graphically depicted as consuming humans and eating up all of their bodies. So if the zombies eat all of the body and not just the brain, then how do the new zombies get created? The eaten-up humans can't become zombies. Are they all the result of bites that the humans are able to escape from? That seems odd.

Mike was sick last weekend, so we stayed in and watched a bunch of movies besides Land of the Dead. We saw the new "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," which didn't suck as much as I was afraid it was going to. It was actually pretty good. I like the old Oompa-Loompa songs better though. We also saw "Unleashed," which was ok. We also went to the theater to see "Doom." I have been telling the rest of pop5 that it is not fair that I have to go and see all of their science fiction and video game movies, and none of them will go and see "Pride and Prejudice" with me. When I told that to Buddy, he just said, "Good luck with that," and when I told it to Rob, he said that there were already three Pride and Prejudice movies, and so they already know how it ends. That didn't stop you from seeing the Lord of the Rings, now did it?

In panda news, the baby panda is getting so big! She is more than a hundred days old now, so they named her Su Lin. I liked the other name better.

Cute Baby Panda

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We go to the Crystal Lake Diner a lot, because it is very conveniently located. It is on Cuthbert Road in Westmont. I think we have probably been there at least a million times.

Crystal Lake Diner

The Crystal Lake Diner is not a great diner, but it is not a bad diner either. When we are hungry and looking to go someplace not too far away, it is high on the list of possibilities. I think they served me the best cheese omelet I have ever had, but that was only out of the many I've ordered. I've been ordering them ever since trying to recapture it - maybe they have fired the omelet cook. The fries are nondescript, and none of the desserts are any good. They serve good pancakes and waffles, a decent salad, and a pretty good milkshake. The service is very friendly and prompt. They are open 24 hours, although we tend to eat there around lunch or dinner time, and it's not really a hangout spot for us.

Crystal Lake Sign

In short, the Crystal Lake Diner is a perfectly good enough diner. You might want to visit to see if you can get the perfect cheese omelet. Those are pretty rare.

The Crystal Lake Diner gets 3.5 Coffee Cups

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"Cynicism, like gullibility, is a symptom of underdeveloped critical faculties."
~ Jamie Whyte, Crimes Against Logic

"To be always with a woman and not to have sexual relations with her is more difficult than to raise the dead. You cannot do the less difficult; do you think I will believe that you can do what is more difficult?"
~ Bernard of Clairvaux to his monks

On how to hook up in college: "Finally, take immediate action at bars and parties: Worst case, you make a new buddy. Best case, you meet a Barnard student."
~ Johnny Maldoro, The Village Voice, August 27 - September 2, 2003

Hee, as a former Barnard student, I'm glad to see we are high on the list of desirable hook-ups.

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Hey, no fair showing my uncensored pictures! But I know how to fight back...

Camera War

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There are few things that we here at pop5 like to discuss (read: vehemently argue over) more than movies. A few months ago (before we had a website), Premiere Magazine had an article about the 20 most overrated movies of all time. Since nothing improves a website like some bloodthirsty, acrimonious debate, I'm going to post the list here, and let the pop5 crew duke it out in the comments section. I'll show you how it's done. By the way, if we have any readers out there who aren't part of the crew, feel free to join in. The comments are open to all.

Premiere Magazine's Top 20 Most Overrated Movies (in alpha order):

2001: A Space Odyssey
A Beautiful Mind
American Beauty
An American in Paris
Chariots of Fire
Chicago
Clerks
Easy Rider
Fantasia
Field of Dreams
Forrest Gump
Gone with the Wind
Good Will Hunting
Jules and Jim
Monster’s Ball
Moonstruck
Mystic River
Nashville
The Red Shoes
The Wizard of Oz

The question is, are they overrated? Do they deserve to be on the list?

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The Phily Diner is the uber-diner, the ur-diner, the quintessential diner. It is the only diner, so far, that we have awarded five stars.

Phily Diner

I don't know what is up with the (mis)spelling of their name. I can only speculate that there exists somewhere else (probably actually in Philadelphia) a "Philly Diner," and so they were forced to leave off an "l." This does not detract from its diner goodness.

Phily Diner Sign

The Phily Diner is located in Barrington. I think we have only been going there for a year, maybe two tops, but we have been there countless times. They have a full-size convertible in the waiting area - I think they are trying for a nostalgic, 50s diner feel. We have had countless meals here, and there are a few special shout-outs that I have to extend. First, it is open 24 hours, and they have large booths in the smoking section, so it has provided us with late-night comfort seating. Second, the challah bread French toast is particularly good. Third, all of their desserts (and we have tried plenty) are delicious - I can especially recommend the chocolate-coated cheesecake (kind of a Magic Shell effect), the tiramisu, the fudge cake (three layers of thick, thick frosting that I think end up equalling more frosting than cake per slice), and HUGE sundaes. Seriously. Do not order these sundaes unless you are really hungry.

Phily Diner

Also, you may think that we just pull these coffee cup ratings out of thin air, but we do have a scientific system in place to compare these diners. One of the criteria that we judge on is the quality of the french fries. Now, I happen to not be a big fan of the Phily Diner fry. They are sometimes oddly crispy, and when we went there recently, they were rocking more of a shoestring cut, which I am fundamentally opposed to. So you can get an idea of what I look for in a fry, I offer this description of the Perfect Fry (TM): chunky cut - the chunkier the better. I love wedges and waffle and steak fries, although none of these are usually served as diner french fries, although they may have them available as a separate item. The Perfect Fry should be golden brown, lightly crispy on the outside, and meltingly warm and tender on the inside. There are many accompaniments to the Perfect Fry: I enjoy ketchup, salt and vinegar, honey mustard sauce, and (when I was in the Netherlands) mayonnaise, which is not at all the same as mayonnaise here, and is an accepted Fry condiment.

I know I may encounter some disagreement from you crispy shoestring lovers out there, so feel free to comment away. In any case, this is why diners are so superior to fast food outlets. In most cases, the fries just can't compare. In my opinion, Wendy's is the best of a feeble, feeble bunch. As to diners, the Palace Diner has the best fries I have ever tasted, but we haven't gotten there yet...

As I mentioned before, the Phily Diner gets 5 Coffee Cups

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Special guest Evan joins us for Podcasts 7 and 8!