Victoria: April 2006 Archives

When I posted about the Crystal Lake Diner, I mentioned that they had once delivered me the best cheese omelet I have ever had. This was not that omelet, but it was pretty good:

Cheese Omelet

It was a little overcooked (in other words, tough), but there was a good egg to cheese ratio, and it was folded nicely. The Perfect Cheese Omelet was perfectly cooked - not burnt, but not underdone in the center. It was folded like an origami in thin layers, and it seemed like there was cheese in every layer. Perfecto! Apparently almost everyone everywhere overcooks eggs, and the best way to make them is over very low heat for a very long time. I have heard of recipes to make scrambled eggs that use the lowest heat possible and cook for 30 minutes. This is supposed to make them so tender, they melt in your mouth, but I have never had them this way. Have you heard about this, Rob?

More 28mm/2.8 lens photos here.

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This, unsuspecting South Jerseyites, is a Wegmans.

Wegmans

What is a Wegmans, you are asking? It is only the best supermarket in the WHOLE WORLD. I grew up with Wegmans. My mom shopped nowhere else. Wegman's was my first job, and I worked there until I left for college. Since I have moved to South Jersey, only one thing was missing to make my life complete: Wegmans.

You may be laughing at me right now, but that is because you have not felt the magic of Wegmans. I went with my roommate, who also comes from my hometown, and she was just as excited as I was. We have been tracking the progress of the one in Mount Laurel since it was announced. There is another one coming to Cherry Hill, too, where the racetrack used to be. It opens in June.

So I arrived at the Wegmans with my camera, ready to document the whole experience.

Carts

Wegmans has always been topping itself with each new store it opened. We remembered when the first one to have a Chinese restaurant inside opened a few blocks from Roommate's house. And then when they refurbished the one a couple miles away with a complete Market Cafe. Well, this one in Mount Laurel outdoes all of them: it has pizza, sandwiches, hot deli, a sushi bar, an olive bar, and Chinese takeout. It has a full-service bakery with yummy baked goods, fresh produce, and an elevated toy train running through the dairy section. It has an upstairs seating area to eat in. But I can't show these to you, because they denied me my Constitutional right to take photos, and I didn't push the issue.

Fruit Bar

I got this one picture inside the door, of the fruit bar, before a manager-type hurried over to me and told me I was not allowed to take pictures. I guess Wegmans is more concerned about its "corporate secrets" - which are open to anyone who cares to enter - and less about my own personal sense of nostalgia. These no photo bans are absurd, if you ask me.

After that, I started to see the two girls that the manager was with everywhere I turned in the store, and I told my Roommate that I suspected they were following me. "They're tailing me! This is just like the Bourne Identity!" I told her in an undertone. "You wish," she replied. She was already kind of embarrassed to be seen with me while I was taking the pictures.

So, Wegmans, I still love you even though we have squabbled. This isn't the first time your corporate structure has screwed me over - after all, I did used to work for you. I remember that time that you complained when I called out sick with laryngitis.

Although you won't be able to take pictures there, I still recommend that you drop by to do some grocery shopping. The organic foods section! The produce! The bulk foods! Wegmans!

Cart Handle

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So now that I have upgraded to Flickr pro, I am addicted to Flickr pro. My Butterstick and His Tree picture made the Interesting page, but since it puts up new ones on reload, you probably won't see it when you click. Still! Awesome!

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So we went to the Palace Diner on Saturday, where we were greeted with the following on the door:

No Smoking

That's right, people. New Jersey is now a non-smoking state. I had forgotten that this non-smoking thing had passed, back in February, and it went into effect this week. This has proved to be a seachange in the way diners work here. Now there are no smoking sections anywhere. This doesn't really affect me and Mike alone, like we were on Saturday, but I foresee it having a grave effect on our late-night hangouts.

I'm posting some pictures here of our lunch, since I haven't posted any photos from the Palace Diner yet. These were taken with my manual Canon AE1; hence the low light and shallow depth of field. For some reason, I feel more comfortable taking diner pictures with it than my huge 20D. I just ordered another manual lens, a 28mm, so maybe the food pictures will be easier to take. Mike laughs at me now when I take them, because I have to back away from the plates to get any focus.

Glasses

This is a representative photo - I said the Palace had big drinks, and this is the proof. That's my ice tea glass next to Mike's milkshake glass, and my water glass for a comparison.

Salad

I usually get a little salad here, because they are good. This one wasn't so great as usual. Mike took this picture.

Grilled Cheese

This is my usual grilled cheese, with the Perfect Diner Fry almost covering it. Also note the honey mustard, which I was introduced to some years ago by our friend Steve. Good french fries plus honey mustard equals yum!

Taco Salad

This is Mike's taco salad, looking a little washed out for true appreciation of its goodness.

I also got back some pictures from Ponzio's...ah, the joys of waiting for film.

Bread

Glass and Teapot

Salad

Soup

Cheese Ravioli

Strawberry Shortcake

UPDATE: Also, something is up at the Phily Diner. The last few desserts we have gotten there have been horrible. Also they recently got a liquor license, and now there is a sign announcing the arrival of a "sports bar"...??? This sounds bad. Mike says we may have to take away one of their cups in the near future, so stay tuned...

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These two are for Rob, since he listened to them last night. Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs have put out a new CD called Under the Covers, and here are two tracks:

Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs :: Cinnamon Girl (Neil Young cover)

Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs :: Care of Cell #44 (Zombies cover)

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Not everyone may know that recently our beloved Pop5 member Rama headed out to California to pursue his dreams of endless alcohol, sex, and unemployment. We here at Pop5 wish him the best of luck - but don't think that means he isn't going to be posting in the future. He is still our Los Angeles correspondent.

Rama Rocks Out

Rock on!

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So I submitted some of my old screenshots of baby panda Su Lin and some of the ones on this site of the Stick to PandaFans, which for the record is the best site to go to if you can't spend hours a day watching the Pandacams, like everyone wishes they could. Pandafans collects screenshots and photos of pandas from all over to post. I also really like the captions, particularly for the Stick and his mom. Anyway, some of the ones I sent in were posted, and more might be in the future, so check it out.

Also, people, my Masters thesis is giving me problems. I have it finished (although I will have to do at least one more revision), but my professors are unhappy that I didn't really consult them during the semester while I was working on it. This is true, I didn't, but I also didn't think it was necessary, and I think I did a good job of finishing it without, but.... well, whatever. I'm not sure what's going to happen with it - I mean, if I submit a good enough piece, will they forgive me? I am scheduled to graduate in May, and I think they would let me graduate (or at least participate in the graduation ceremony, even if they hold my diploma) either way. But I also start classes for my doctorate in May, and I really want to have this done before then. Well, in any case, I have to wait until next week to meet with them, so I am just continuing to work on revisions until then, and I guess I will find out....

I watched some more DVDs while continuing to be ill last week: the first season of Arrested Development, which was great. I hardly ever watch television, but watching tv on dvd rocks! No commercials! You can watch it whenever you want! This is probably why I need a Tivo. Also Proof - the Gyllenhaal trifecta completed. There is no reason to watch Proof except for the Gyllenhaal. And The Constant Gardener, which was ok. It was one of those movies where if you have seen a preview for it, then you have seen the entire movie, and actually watching it is absolutely no surprise. Those movies kind of suck. Also The Corpse Bride, which I liked, but not as much as Nightmare Before Christmas.

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So I have been sick and out of work all week with tonsilitus, and after the first few days when all I did was sleep, these last few all I have done is lie in bed and watch movies. This illness is a bitch, but at least I caught up a little movie-wise. This year, for the first year in about forever, I hadn't seen any of the Best Picture nominees before the Oscar ceremony. And now I am proud to say that I have seen four of them, excluding the (not-released yet and I have no interest anyway) Munich. So what do I have to say?

This is no new observation, but people, Brokeback Mountain got robbed. I don't understand how, with three nominations, none of the actors won, and it was far and away the best of the four.

After having heard a lot about Crash, I expected to not like it more than I did. I thought it was okay - some of the cast were really superb (I'm thinking Thandie Newton, Don Cheadle, and Terence Howard, particularly), but all of them were decent. The story kind of lost plausibility with me; it kept switching between moments of extreme hypersaccarine-ity, and moments of sheer horror - sometimes in the same scene. And I never found the dialogue plausible. I think I heard more racial slurs and insults in that movie (that is supposed to take place in 24 hours), than I hear in 5 years of normal life. Do people actually talk that way to people? If they did, how in the world would anyone be able to interact with anyone of a different race? And I'm not sure what the ultimate message was supposed to be: everyone is racist, but maybe we can overlook it and show some common humanity in situations involving car explosions? Everyone - even the smallest characters - was so hateful, and the few who tried to be good when the plot was stacked against them end up fucking up. So the movie just kind of left me feeling unmoved and unsympathetic for any of them. (By the way, does anyone else think that Brendon Fraser's character was sleeping with his assistant - the one Sandra Bullock is supposed to be jealous of? They didn't really come out and say it, but I kind of thought in the last scene...) This movie reminded me of the absolute dark opposite of that movie from a few years ago, Love Actually, where the premise was that an ensemble cast with intertwined lives proves that people really have kind thoughts and wishes for others in the world, and the world is full of love. Here, we have an ensemble cast whose intertwined lives prove that everyone out in the world hates everyone else so much they all would commit violent acts if given the chance.

As for Capote, I thought it was good too. Great cast, script, direction - definitely an Oscar nominee, but not a winner. I even think Philip Seymour Hoffmann shouldn't have won for it, although I like him as an actor, and I'm glad he won for something. But this movie is about Capote, and at the end, I didn't feel like I knew him at all. There were glimpses that he had a horrible childhood, and maybe that contributed to it, but he comes off like a first-rate asshole, who doesn't give a shit about anybody but himself. Yes, Hoffmann did a great job impersonating Capote, but neither he nor the script gives you any reason to care about him. That being said, I really liked Catherine Keener as Harper Lee, and the movie could have used more of her. The guy who played Capote's lover was good too - these two were the two human counterfoils to Capote and the killers.

I liked Good Night and Good Luck, but in a good year, it shouldn't even have been nominated. It was only 96 minutes long, and it even felt padded at times. I would have felt cheated seeing this in the theater, when a whole lot of that 96 minutes was historical footage and musical montages. I liked the story, I liked the point, I agree with both the political overtones, and the whole television could be a force for good, but it's becoming a force for complacency argument. I thought the story could have unfolded more, and we could have gotten more into the characters, or something, anything.

In contrast to these four (and I highly doubt Munich will top it), Brokeback had pitch perfect acting, directing, cinematography, and writing. It had heart, it made you care about the characters. After I saw it, I just wanted to watch it again, even with a stack of other movies I hadn't seen yet. It also didn't hurt that it had dreamy Jake Gyllenhaal in it.

Since I took up more than 10 seconds there, I will condense the rest of my reviews:

Memoirs of a Geisha: This was much better than I expected - I didn't like the book that much, but this was an adaptation that was better than the book.

Jarhead: More yummy Gyllenhaal goodness! Also Peter Sarsgaard! There was a lot of testosterone in this movie, like all war movies, but it was surprisingly funny.

Lesson learned from Junebug: Oral sex will solve any relationship problem. I did not understand the husband's character in this movie. For the first half, he is always asleep, leaving his new wife alone with his family, then it seems like he is siding with them against her, and then at the end, he is glad they leave. WTF? I think I might have divorced him before then.

Five Easy Pieces: I did not like this movie at all. Feel free to leave comments questioning my taste in movies, Rama.

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Entries have been scarce round about these parts, and I blame myself. I am in the end stages of writing my masters thesis, and other things have fallen by the wayside. Like you, Pop5.

Today I got my hair cut by a boy, for the first time ever. I was kind of intimidated, because a) hair cuts usually intimidate me. I don't have a good relationship with my hair; and b) I figured that this boy was bound to be either straight or gay, and both were scary options. If he was straight, I would be uncomfortable looking so crappy in front of him, at close range. And if he were gay, he would probably be very hip and fashionable, and therefore (I felt) all the more likely to look down on me for NOT being hip and fashionable. As it turned out, he was gay (I'm pretty sure), and hip, and fashionable, but he didn't seem too disdainful. He did end up giving me a haircut that is too hip and fashionable for me, however. Knowing me, it will only take me days until I ruin it.

I also went to my orientation for my doctoral program last Thursday, and I am now wondering why they accepted me. The programs are small - there were only 10 people there from mine, and that is just the ones who were accepted, not the ones that actually choose to attend. But everyone had a lot more background and experience than me. I've never even taken an education, psychology, or sociology class before. I have only worked in education for four years, and not at a very important position. I mean, I know my GRE scores and grades are good, and I definitely think I can do it, but am I wondering what made them think so.

Also, this weekend, Mike and I went back to see the Stick. We left early in the morning, and got there by 8am, but we didn't stay long. The Stick was "being a brat," as Mike put it, staying in his tree the whole time. We took some pictures, but we were too tired to stay.

Stick in the Tree

Stick Still in the Tree

Stick in the Tree Again

I also liked these ones of Mei Xiang, the Stick's mom.

Mei and Bamboo

Mei Xiang

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Special guest Evan joins us for Podcasts 7 and 8!