Monday, December 30, 2019

Movies of 2019

It seems like everyone is talking about movies everywhere I go and I'm loving it.  Not only my friends, but even strangers, like the checkers at the co-op debating the merits of the Lighthouse with a customer. I think this is an indication that peak TV is over. I mean, sure, a lot of movies were released on streaming this year, but I'm not counting those movies in my year-end wrap up. Look it's my wrap up and I can do what I want.

EVERYONE is talking about Uncut Gems, but smiller and I are supposed to see it together and he has very specific times he will go see movies so I haven't seen it yet. I did watch an earlier film of the directors' yesterday: Daddly Longlegs. Wow, disturbing. I also saw Good Times when it came out and their junkie movie too.

Here are the movies I saw in the theater in 2019. A couple were released in December 2018:

The Souvenir 1
Once Upon a time in Hollywood 2
Pain and Glory 3
Parasite 4
Arctic 5
Destroyer 6
Hustlers 7
The lighthouse 8
Booksmart 9
Climax 10
Everybody Knows
The Beach Bum
Amazing Grace
High Life
Non fiction
The last black man in san Francisco
The Farewell
After the wedding
Ad Astra
Honey Boy
Knives out
Little Women  

My favorite movie of the year, or maybe the movie I was most affected by was The Souvenir. I was gratified to see it made Obama's list and also cried inside to think that he used to be our president and he liked this and Booksmart. I mean, he liked the Irishman but I won't hold that against him.

Arctic hit my personal sweetspot of realistic hardship movies and Mads Mikkelson. I am somewhat embarrassed Climax is in my top ten but I'm being honest.

The worst movie I saw was probably After the Wedding. Non Fiction was not great either. Ad Astra was also lacking. Everybody Knows had dumb plot twists. Vice was meh, I will lump it in with Bombshell as "explainer movies your mom will like because they make her feel smart". Sorry to project my mom on you.

Beach Bum was entertaining but I felt nothing for it just like most of Harmony Korine's movies. Midsommar was fine but too derivative.

Highlife was the biggest fall from a director's last film, given that Claire Denis had just come off Let the Sunshine In

Destroyer was the movie I thought I hated but can't stop thinking about. The movie that made me feel the most pure movie-going joy was Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

The movie that I saw on streaming that I wish I had gotten around to seeing was Serenity. That movie is fucking bonkers watch it right now. I had actually meant to get to it but it was only in theaters here like a week.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Video game mouths and weird glowy eyes

So smiller and I tried to watch the Irishman on Christmas Day eve. I say TRIED because after about an hour we tired of the horrible video game mouths and weirdly watery eyes of the CG actors. I really don't understand how people were able to look past that in regards to that movie, or why they would want to. If you liked it can you tell me how you dealt with how strange their faces looked and moved? Especially we all know how those actors looked at those ages, that just made it worse. The plot seemed pretty tired too, but I couldn't assess it properly because I was distracted. We switched to Season 2 episode 1 of the Sopranos, which we are rewatching and I remembered that pretty soon they'd have the episode where there was some CGI with Tony's mom that I remember as being terrible! But she is still alive in Episode 1, which is also when Janis comes back and is an excellent episode.

The NYTimes has this gross article about "ghost kitchens" which is a phrase I have been seeing around for a week or so so I had to read. It's kitchens where delivery food is made, sometimes under the rubric of a well known chain, like Sweetgreen. Did I use rubric right? I think this is a nasty way to eat, and it's hard to understand why people wouldn't just make some quick pasta or something, but I also live in a place without real weather, so I guess I can't judge. Getting to and from work in the snow would probably drain my desire to also shop or go out to eat. The worst part of it is a quote from David Chang, who invested in a ghost kitchens venture that failed a few years back,

"For the time being you still need humans to make food and to process it,” he said. “It’s not like being at a warehouse at Amazon where you’re taking something out of a box and putting it into a bag."

For the time being??? Wow, David Chang you are really showing your passion for food here! Can't wait until robots are making our meals and you can get super duper duper rich.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Last day in Mexico: Tlaquepaque

I don't know about you, but whenever I think about the word Tlaquepaque, I get the rap song "Laffy Taffy" stuck in my head. And since we bought a magnet at Tlaquepaque, I see it on our fridge multiple times a day, so I think of this song a lot. You're welcome. Learn about Tlaquepaque after the jump

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Guadalajara: we continue to pay respect to maiz

 There are so many rad looking houses in Mexico, of course. This one had this really pale yellow, like lemon meringue accent paint everywhere. More cool houses and sandwiches after the jump

Monday, December 16, 2019

Guadalajara: I wait in line for lonches

So there I was in Guadalajara. I'd eaten two breakfasts, which added up to the best breakfast, and we were heading to the main government plaza in Guadalajara. I knew I wanted to go to the museums and galleries located in the Hospicio Cabanas. It's a gorgeous building built in the late 1700s/early 1800s that was a hospital and is now a cultural instiute. There was a rad exhibit on the yarn art of the Wixaritari, sometimes known as Huichol.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Guadalajara is cool, part 2: the day of good grub

I had read that due to the mining industry in Jalisco, Guadalajara has Paste shops, which are the Mexican take on Cornish pasties!! Since Smiller is Welsh we like to think of them as Welsh pasties and he was intrigued. Turns out that they make an awesome breakfast and they are about a dollar each. Want to see? After the jump

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The wild card: Guadalajara

Whatever your destination in Mexico, if you fly out of SMF you are often on the red eye direct to Guadalajara. I had never had G. recommended to me as a vacation destination, but its easy access via flight and the fact that it's the second biggest city in Mexico piqued my attention.

That made it somewhat of a wild card for the last three nights of the trip. Would it be fun, or just a huge traffic-y metropolis?

Answer: FUN. More after the jump

Monday, December 09, 2019

On to Puerto Escondido!

We reluctantly said goodbye to Oaxaca city and that great patio, and left on our way to Puerto Escondido, on the Oaxacan coast. We took a tiny plane. You can see my view of the pilot there. Notice the co-pilot seat is empty, finally proving all the bumper stickers true. Did we survive? Find out after the jump

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Last day in Oaxaca

 On our last full day, I headed back to the Reforma neighborhood (about a mile from the Centro) to check out Itanoni Antojeria and Totilleria. This spot is only open for breakfast and lunch and I knew this was my last chance. I'm so glad I went. Looking into it I see it is Alice Waters' fave Oaxaca spot (check out that pic of the egg frying on the comal!). See more of Itanoni after the jum

Mexican non-alcoholic beverages are a whole world to discover. This one is called tascalate. It's a mix of roasted maize, chocolate, pine nuts, achiote, vanilla and sugar.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Oaxaca: Monte Alban ruins and I bought a hat

After our full-day tour, Scott skipped out on a visit to the Zapotec ruins called Monte Alban,. It's about a 30 minute bus ride up the hill from Oaxaca and the driver just said to meet him back in 3 hours. The site is gorgeous and so was the weather.
Besides the small museum, this is the first part you walk into. It's a ball court. A cursory search does not reveal the name of the ball game, but it was probably played with a rubber ball. More about this site after the jump

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Yes, still in Oaxaca! and still eating

 La Biznaga is a fancy place in Oaxaca and I must admit I was pretty skeptical about it but it turned out to be one of my favorite places I ate. We had dinner there and it was dim, so I borrowed this picture of their smoked marlin tostadas from this blog. More Biznags after the jump

Non Oaxaca Post

Have you been reading Inside Land Park (or East Sac) lately? They are doing some serious muckraking, especially in regards to Steve Hansen and the bike trail. Graswich and Steve Hansen seem to be openly feuding. I'm definitely concerned about the fencing off the bike trail issue, but more than that, I'm concerned about what I'm reading about Steve Hansen's attempt to keep the press out of a recent public meeting and bar a photographer from taking pictures. I hope someone at the Bee or CPR picks up this story and runs with it.

As a BIG fan of the movie Silent Light, I decided to watch director Carlos Reygadas' newest, a 3 hour movie called Our Time from 2018. I believe it never played Sac, or I blinked and missed it.

He starts really, really strong, with gorgeous ranch footage filmed in the Mexican state of Tlaxcala. He's got Malickian ways with filming nature, clouds, light, flora, fauna, the whole deal. I feel it was a mistake to cast himself in the lead. He said it was for financial reasons. He also cast his real wife and kids. His wife is good in it - he lacks onscreen charisma.

The movie is a bit of a slog. It's about a longtime couple's open marriage, and how a crush starts to upend it. It got mixed-to-bad reviews and a lot of criticism about the cringe-y power dynamics. He seemed pretty pissed off in interviews that people took it to be a male vs. female struggle. He saw the couple as equals, and that it was just a power struggle, but that gender roles were irrelevant. Yet the movie literally ends (this is not a spoiler) with two bulls fighting. How is it not about machismo and you end it like that???

I think he's a genius based on Silent Light so I'm still following his career. I think this movie would have been stronger as a two-hour movie with a different male lead. But I'm glad he's making movies and I hope he's at work on another one.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Oacaca, another day, I think 4

After I got back from Oaxaca/Jalisco I continued reading this Paul Theroux book about his recent driving trip through Mexico, with an emphasis on Oaxaca. It's a fun, discursive, informative book. It's a little on the curmudgeonly side, and he does some harsh critiques of other books about Mexico and also his take on tourists spending a tiny bit of time in Mexico and thinking they know or can explain it. I will try not to fall into that trap!It's interesting to get his take on a lot of what we experienced, including the sites in this 9 hour slog of a guided day trip we took.

I won't go into visiting the Tule tree, which has the world's biggest trunk. It's a Montezuma cypress, in the town of Tule. Welll, there, I guess I just did go into it. It's a big-ass tree! More after the jump

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Oaxaca Post Day 2

Here's the patio from our AirBnB. IT was a sick spot, and had beautiful plants.

 Oh my god, why won't blogger let you position the photos better! This is ridic. Oh well, let's get into early 2000s nostalgia for this look
Patio pic. More after the jump.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Oaxaca Part 1

The struggle is real to post instead of using Instagram. I want to single-handedly lead a blog revival and a mass abandoning of the Gram and FB. 2010s nostalgia is peaking right now so let's bring back blogs! BUT blogger makes it nigh impossible to easily post photos whereas it's so easy on Instagram and you get so much social validation from it instantly! I mean, my serotonin will barely be affected by this post unless you comment so what's the point????

Nonetheless I will soldier on because when destiny calls one (to lead a blog revival), one must answer. Oaxaca report after the jump

Friday, November 01, 2019

grab bag post

The food writing world is all abuzz this week about Pete Wells' one star review of Peter Luger steakhouse in Brooklyn, which has been around since 1887. It was a moderately fun read, not that crazy. The best line was about the shrimp in the cocktail tasting like latex. I've never been to Peter Luger, at first because it was way out of my budget, and now because I only go to NYC every couple of years. It sounds like the kind of place that is right up my alley as far as being old and crotchety and having grumpy servers.

Eater Podcast had a discussion of it, and I felt very validated for my love of old places, as I wrote about in Eater (plug, plug) (which I still have not been paid for BTW). They talked about all the reasons they love Peter Luger that are not just about having the very best steak in the world.

For Halloween I watched 1 1/2 scary movies, the half was The Cell. I saw this movie when it came out and I forgot about how bonkers it is, and how repulsive as well. I have a newfound love of J Lo from Hustlers but she is so ridic in this, and it's not her fault. The director's leering gaze permeates how she is filmed. She literally has on pink lip gloss in bed alone!! Gross.

The other scary move was Insidious, from the Conjuring dude. I like all his dumb movies. And as a lady, I like Patrick Wilson.

Smiller and I saw The Lighthouse at Tower. I find it very amusing that he was getting The Nurse (directed by conjuring dude) and The Witch (actual high quality movie) mixed up and thought we were seeing a Nurse-related movie. He also did not realize that it starred Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe until the end credits rolled. Nevertheless we both enjoyed it a lot, and I'm so glad I saw it on the big screen as I 100% would have fallen asleep watching it at home. The guy working the ticket booth was very nice and told Smiller that all the Hitchcock movies have been selling out, which is cool. I'm stoked Parasite came out today and will see it soon for sure.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Best lunch dish

In an Ouroboros-like loop, I was reading an article on Chuck E. Cheese robots, which made me think about Pizza N Pipes in Sacramento, which made me start googling it, which quickly led me to this post from almost 9 years ago where I was thinking about the same thing. Alas, the "amazing photo" I linked to is no longer available. This was clearly before millenials killed the word "amazing" for me.

Speaking of amazing, check out this amazing (terrible) food photography. I am thinking about getting an iPhone 11 for the better photos, but my 8 is FINALLY paid off, so I am hesitating.

 Anyway, it ain't pretty but this is the saaj chicken shawarma wrap from Tanoor Halal (on Arden). DO NOT SLEEP ON THIS BURRITO-LIKE DISH. It is currently my #1 fave lunch dish. I had to go twice in a week.
It looks exactly like a Jimboy's burrito, no? It has a tangy pickly sauce in there with the meat and it is ADDICTIVE. Is saaj the name of the bread/wrap? The regular shawarma is served on samoon bread, which is also good, but this is the king.

I reviewed this place as one of my later SNR review, but they changed their super cute sign since then, and also eliminated the breakfast item that I raved about.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Restaurant closure

I LOVE Co Do Deli, especially their Mi Quang noodles. I consider these to be an iconic Sac dish, and the best example of this in Sac that I've had. The place is usually crowded, and a lot of folks are getting this dish.

HOWEVER, when I tried to go the other day it had been closed by the health department. Looking on line it may still be closed right now. It was inspected on 9/13 and closed, and reinspected the next day and still closed.

The culprit? Cockroaches. In April they got a conditional pass, but then cleaned up for later in April. In that case it was some minor improper temp. items.

I wonder if I can go back?? I want to but I don't know how I can not think about this.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Restaurants we've lost

It's been about six months since I posted, and, by coincidence I just watched a Mads Mikkelson movie the other day. I watched the 2006 Danish version of After the Wedding. I don't really want to see the new version with Michele Williams because it's not getting good reviews. The Danish version is pretty soapy! Lotta implausible twists.

I'm on deadline for a new writing thing that I can't share yet, but it's got me thinking about restaurants we've lost. There's a lot. I know that change is inevitable and businesses close but jeez.  I thought I would start a list just to share memories. Add yours as well! With Biba's passing (RIP) who know if it will stay open or remain as good. I know she hadn't cooked there in a while. The son wants to sell Zelda's too so I wouldn't be surprised if it got bought by some bland restaurant group
  • Ha, I use bullets (some would say overuse) so much at work. I'll use bullets on the blog too!
  • It seems like June's Cafe might be closed. I am hoping it will reopen but Mike C. keep checking by for me and it keeps still being closed. This is tragic.
  • Market Club. Had breakfast there with Natalie the day I got married (2012). Only ate there a couple of times, but it was charming.
  • Italian Importing Co. I don't think I ever ate there honestly, or maybe once? I am pretty picky about sandwiches
  • 524. This one hurts. I should make it out to the remaining one on Northgate but man the Yelps are bad! I ate there one millon times when I was a poor student
  • Pho Bac on Broadway. That was my introduction to Vietnamese food and it used to be hella good! It got hella bad. Saigon Street Eats (not good) is closed and now it's empty and slated to be demolished.
  • Luigi's: the Stockton Blvd. one was never a big fave of mine (I prefer Roma's for that kind of cheesy pizza) but now it's sold to investors. Haven't been since it was sold
  • New Canton. Used to be the best dim sum. Now my pick is Asian Pearl 2000
  • Nationwide Freezer Meats. This one hurts too. It was never the same after it moved.
  • Squeeze Inn. I only went to original one once. 
  • The Rubicon. No love lost for me on those Cisco waffle fries. I'm glad Alaro seeems to be bumpin'
  • The original Luis'. Ok, that was not that great either, but all those pictures of Luis were the best
  • Trails, then became Shoki, now burned up. Sad
  • I'm sure I will think of more!

Friday, March 15, 2019

It's a Mads world

I am 100% going to see the new Gaspar Noe movie at the Tower tonight even though it is probably trash. I loved the trash that was Love. I like Noe movies better now that they are not so violent. Tower has been on a good run lately and it's making me happy. Arctic was really good and I'm happy I caught it in the two weeks it was there. Madds Mikkelson is one of my favorite actors.

I went to see Dolls House Part 2 at B street last night. The acting was very strong but the popularity of that play escapes me.  in 2018 is was the most produced nationally. I think it could possibly because it makes people feel smart because they understand the reference to the original Doll's House? People love to feel smart (me included). Other than that, it's pretty damned slight.

The truly remarkable thing about last night is that I heard activity from six different phones during the play. Two different  phones rang, two phones received pinging texts, one near me did the full vibrating ring-to-voicemail and someone's iphone alarm went off for quite a while! Totally outrageous. I've never seen anything like it. Dave Pierini intro'd the play and he didn't tell people to turn their phones off so that probably accounts for it. In 2019 I guess you have to tell the Boomers (ok, one young girls phone went off, too) explicitly to take out their phones and turn them completely off.

Oh, the Bee. I fear you are not long for this earth. Not only do I miss deliveries probably once every couple weeks, even though it's quite expensive to get delivered, today an entire section was missing from the paper. I have been seeing frequent typos, sometimes on the front page, and recently they reran an entire food article that they had just run two week prior, as if no one would notice.

The Bee ran a piece today on local activist Berry Accius' quest to eat at a black-owned restaurant every day in Feb for Black History Month. The article had this quote,

'There were some judgment calls, too. Rob Archie owns Pangaea Bier Cafe and co-owns Urban Roots Brewery & Smokehouse, but Accius said he forgot about them because neither feels particularly “black.”

You can kind of feel the residue that it’s black-owned. You can feel it from the vibe, the music, the people, the food,” Accius said. “More than likely, if you go to a black restaurant – whether it’s Caribbean-style or African American food, which is considered soul food – there’s going to be some staples. You’re going to have mac and cheese, you’re going to have greens, you’re going to have a fried chicken, you’re going to have some kind of barbecue.'

I can't comment on that judgment call of course, but it would have been appropriate to ask Rob to comment, and also calls to mind the delicious mac and cheese and BBQ that I just had at Urban Roots the other day.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Tuesday ramblins

I have at least 12 minutes to kill so I will write a post. I am about to leave work but leaving right at 5 is a fool's errand (fool's journey?) because that is right when students all leave class so you will be stuck waiting for them to cross and they will all be on bikes and hoverboards and motorized skateboards and whatever and looking at their phones so you will be there a WHILE.

It is so dorky and good that the UCD Chancellor is having William Shatner speak on campus and also screening Wrath of Khan at the Mondavi. I would go, but it's on a Saturday (I avoid Davis on the weekends) and it's 55 bucks. But still, cute!

I don't have the steam right now for another Laos post because blogger still makes it pretty hard to upload photos. I'm going to Puebla and Mexico city in late April so I'm excited about that. I was just looking at the fancy architect-designed museum of the baroque in Puebla, which I will definitely go to. And eating mole obviously. Other than that, not too planned yet.

It's kinda cheesy that people are getting excited about the Michelin guide coming to Sac. That thing is so musty and dusty it should come with a sneeze guard (don't think about that too hard). But if chefs are excited to get a star, that's cool.

I've been seeing all the Instagram posting about Billy Ngo's ramen popup. I will wait for it to open on K street. All the ramen looks really good. I was skeptical about expensive ramen until I ate at Ramen Shop in Berkeley. If it can be that good, I'll pay close to 20 bucks for it. Hopefully that price will be hearty enough to be mostly a full meal, though. Those bowls at Ramen Shop are pretty light. But that gets into the debate on what types of dishes diners expect to be a bargain and what they will pay for.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Vientiane in November!

 I waited so long of course I'm already forgetting stuff about my trip. Vientiane has a ton of temples. That's mostly what there is to do, besides eat and go to the night market. All of it is interesting.

A variation on these dragons were outside pretty much every temple.
 This was the first thing I ate after a 27! Hour! Plane! Ride! Lot's o lemongrass. Tasted perfect with a beer Lao too.

 That same restaurant had pretty decent Lao sausage. Not as good as Spicy Joi Lao makes, or the super affordable sausage at Longchang market on Franklin.
 So many cool looking monks! I didn't want to be a jerk and always be snapping them but the colors of the robe were a feast for the eyes.
 This one is funny because if you zoom in on the plaque you see they are dissing this cement monument. It was somewhat ugly, true. You climb it to get a view of the city and the inside is packed with souvenir stores with wonderful old tshirts. It was hot AF the entire time I was there. In the 90s with killer humidity. I remember climbing to the top of this (Patuxai) monument to be particularly brutal as far as heat.
 One of my fave dishes ever! Nam Khao Tod, crispy rice with sausage. So good
 I tried to capture that these walking guy signs never ever turn green.
 A just ok version of papaya salad.

 Here's Patuxai again

Delicious noodle soup with blood cake, crispy garlic, "napa cabbage" (as I know it)

 More temple finery