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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Freezerburns +1: My First Impressions

Two of my favorite online shows, Freezerburns and the Nostalgia Critic, have recently made their return to the internet.  While the latter, still charismatically portrayed by Doug Walker, remains in tried and true form, the former has undergone some noticeable adjustments.  As you’ve probably guessed, I feel compelled to acknowledge and address them.

For those who are unfamiliar, Freezerburns was a show dedicated to providing frozen food reviews.  These included “Fro-downs,” where similar dishes from various companies were compared, to testing certain meals when deep fried, to personal Top 5 lists, including the best frozen foods for when you’re snowed in.  However, when Greg, the show’s host and creator, took up the “Food Stamp Challenge,” things slowed down and change started to come in a way that fans are definitely reacting to.

The show is turning into a different iteration, called “Freezerburns +1.”  It appears that, for each episode, Greg will be taking a frozen meal and adding one “fresh” ingredient to make it better.  Our first taste (pun intended) has been through the addition of green peppers to a Newman’s Own skillet meal.

First, let’s run through what’s good about Freezerburns +1.  For starters, the production has definitely gone up.  Everything from the captured footage to the editing and instructions is clean and clear-cut.  The idea of adding something different to a meal so it can be improved is certainly interesting and creates a lot of potential.  However, this is also where the fundamental problem with the show’s new direction comes in.

Fans have already commented about how the look and feel of the show is different and (severely) lacking a key factor: Greg.  The man is someone who’s just enjoyable to watch.  He’s fun, oftentimes charismatic, descriptive and leaves an impression of someone who’s informed but also among the common crowd.  An everyday person could watch his videos and see exactly where he was coming from.  It was all the more reason Freezerburns worked and continued to bring in subscribers.

This new format, on the other hand, is incredibly formal and, dare I say, commercial.  Based on what we have so far, it’s less entertainment and more infomercial.  And I want to address the show’s new core issue in the concept of adding one ingredient to a frozen meal.  This isn’t an interesting, eye-catching premise.  Anyone can add a single ingredient.  It doesn’t make for interesting material.  The videos themselves seem like they’re going to be incredibly limited too.  The +1 in the show’s new title suggests that the inclusion of only one ingredient will be used and tested, which is hardly riveting.  I would suggest experimenting and relaying the results of multiple ingredients one at a time in a single video, but that would be time-consuming, not to mention hard on the wallet.

One more reason I can’t see this new format taking off is because really, if you’re going to add ingredients like green peppers (with olive oil, mind you), why don’t you just make the dish yourself?  You’re already taking the necessary steps by doing so with the green peppers in a separate skillet, so there’s little to deter anyone from going all-out.  Many times the reason people buy frozen meals is because they’re convenient and the closest we can get to affordable variants of the “real deal.”  Like many people, I work in retail and only get a half hour break per shift.  I don’t like buying fast food or ordering from nearby eateries since it’s often time-consuming, more expensive, and even worse for me.  Thus, I resort to frozen food meals that are relatively quick and convenient, by comparison.  Am I going to have the time or resources to do something similar to what was depicted in this latest episode?  Not in an everyday breakroom, I won’t.

My concerns for the future of Freezerburns (+1) are quite high.  People got excited to see the show come back because they thought they’d be getting a new and improved version of something they knew, something that worked.  The show functioned fine on its own and, thanks to an ever-changing and expanding supply of frozen food entrees, it meant there was never any concern for new material.  Freezerburns had personality and a unique flavor (again, pun intended), this does not.  This is more makeshift cooking from home than it is actual input on stuff people use and buy.  Sometimes changes can be interesting, but as both fans and Doug Walker himself learned with Demo Reel, “interesting” isn’t synonymous with “good.”

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Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Blog, Food, Impressions

 

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85th Oscars: Re-cap

I originally planned to avoid most of the Oscars, only to tune in for the acceptance speeches and the performance of Skyfall.  But between one friend’s company and the fact the host was actually churning out some good jokes, I remained invested.  While the show did drag towards the end, I think it was an overall good watch–and certainly better than any episode of Family Guy.  Those who know me know that the fact I’m not condemning MacFarlane is a double-take-worthy surprise in and of itself.  Let’s just say the reason why is because the jokes had context, reason and place during the show.  But no one cares about that any more, what we care about are the awards handed out.  Here are my thoughts:

The show got off to a great start with Christoph Waltz winning Best Supporting Actor (again).

First upset of the night was Brave winning Best Animated Feature; seriously, does anyone even have to argue the fact that almost all of the other nominees were more deserving?

Life of Pi’s many wins were well deserved.  I’m especially glad that Ang Lee took home the Best Director award and am glad my concerns for John Williams snatching Best Score were misplaced.  It should’ve won Best Film Editing too, but I’m fine with Argo grabbing a couple small accolades.

Am I the only one who wasn’t that engaged with Adele’s performance?

The tie for Best Sound Editing was a surprise (thought it was a joke at first).

Lincoln winning Best Production Design was the second upset of the night for me.  Everything looked good and authentic, but The Hobbit was more imaginative and creative while Les Miserables was at least interesting to look at.

Best Foreign Film, Best Original Song, Best Supporting Actress and Best Lead Actor.  One word: Yawn.  I would’ve loved to see anyone besides Daniel Day-Lewis win just so everyone would be thrown off (and because it wasn’t the best performance from last year).

Bringing the film students out and not letting any of them speak I found pretty short-changing.  So much for “helping present the awards.”

Jennifer Lawrence winning Best Lead Actress made the night for me.  Also, Doug Walker (aka Nostalgia Critic) said he wanted Quavenzhane Wallis to win just so she could say “I’m the man!”  I got no argument against that.

The acceptance speeches from Daniel Day-Lewis and the crew of Argo were both great; the other acting acceptance speeches were short but good and earnest.

A couple upsets and boring choices aside, I think this was a great Academy Awards.  They might be expected, but upsets are upsets.  Would’ve liked the surprises to come in the form of awards that were actually deserved, but you can’t win them all.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Blog, Film, Movies

 

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85th Academy Awards: My Picks & Predictions

The Academy have their opinions, I have my own.  And though I do not intend to watch the Oscars in their entirety, due in large part to the host (so sue me), I can still anticipate what will unfold.  Some of the categories won’t be included here, as I haven’t seen or heard of enough of some of the movies to make a fair call.  Others I’ll simply list what I anticipate to win.  Anywho, let’s dive into the 85th Academy Awards, predictions versus my picks.

Best Visual Effects

My Pick: Life of Pi
Prediction: Life of Pi

Best Sound Editing

My Pick: Skyfall
Prediction: Zero Dark Thirty

Best Sound Mixing

My Pick: Skyfall
Prediction: Argo

Best Original Song

My Pick: “Before My Time” by J. Ralph (from Chasing Ice)
Prediction: “Skyfall” by Adele (from Skyfall)

Best Original Score

My Pick: Mychael Danna, Life of Pi
Prediction: John Williams, Lincoln

Best Makeup

My Pick: Les Miserables
Prediction: Les Miserables

Best Film Editing

My Pick: Life of Pi
Prediction: Life of Pi

Best Costume Design

My Pick: Les Miserables
Prediction: Les Miserables

Best Cinematography

My Pick: Life of Pi
Prediction: Life of Pi

Best Art Direction/Production Design

My Pick: Les Miserables
Prediction: Les Miserables

Best Animated Feature Film

My Pick: ParaNorman
Prediction: Wreck-It Ralph

Best Original Screenplay

My Pick: Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
Prediction: Amour, Michael Haneke

Best Adapted Screenplay

My Pick: Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell
Prediction: Lincoln, Tony Kushner

Best Supporting Actress

My Pick: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Prediction: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

Best Supporting Actor

My Pick: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Prediction: Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook

Best Lead Actress

My Pick: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Prediction: Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty

Best Lead Actor

My Pick: Denzel Washington, Flight
Prediction: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

Best Director

My Pick: Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Prediction: Steven Spielberg, Lincoln

Best Picture

My Pick: Silver Linings Playbook
Prediction: Lincoln

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2013 in Blog, Film, Movies

 

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Southern Comfort 100 Proof Liqueur Review

Personal note: My internet has been completely out the past week (thanks to terrible service and prices on AT&T and Comcast’s parts) and it won’t be restored until this coming Saturday at the earliest.  So until then it’s just my phone and occasional time at my friend’s place.

My experience with Southern Comfort has been a bit, how might you say, inconsistent.  The original batch is easily one of the sweetest hard alcohols you’ll find.  It makes sense, since even the 100 proof variant says that it’s a liqueur (go ahead, check the bottle).  For all its syrupy sweetness, Southern Comfort can be a very enjoyable drink on its own.  I even tried a sip of the Fiery Pepper variant and found it rather stomachable.  Now the Black Cherry flavor, that’s one which will forever live in infamy among my (empty) collection.

But I’m able to cast a putrid drink aside if other offerings are solid.  And since I’m a sucker for drinks that are intense and/or high in proof, I decided to grab a 100 proof bottle.  I figure it’ll either have more burn or less of sweet factor, which might make cocktails using 70 proof SoCo a bit more interesting.

The dark purple label and noticeably dimmer color help distinguish this bottle, not unlike Captain Morgan 100 Proof (though to more success).  To my surprise, upon opening the bottle, the scent isn’t terribly imposing.  On the nose I’m beginning to get some Black Cherry deja vu, bringing some ripe anxiety to the table.

I take a sip and the sweet flavor almost immediately gives way to the burn of the alcohol.  It very quickly goes from that heavy, almost dark peach flavor to the tangling burn of a comforting liquor as it massages your chest.  The drink is still very sweet, yet less dominant and cordial; in other words, it feels a bit more adult.  There’s still no mistaking this for an actual bourbon, and one shot of this can definitely leave your throat and mouth dry.  Whether the extra $5 is worth the climb is a question of personal preference.  If less sweetness and higher potency is what you want out of SoCo, then this is a viable option.  But if you enjoy SoCo the way it is, then I can think of little to persuade you to make a permanent jump up the proof ladder.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2013 in Alcohol, Blog, Review

 

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Godiva Liqueur Review (Chocolate & White Chocolate)

Chocolate Liqueur Review

Great, now I’m reviewing alcohol.

I originally thought I’d be subjecting a more conventional bottle to my scrutiny, but while shopping, a couple little devils caught my eye.  For the longest time I’ve been curious about Godiva’s chocolate liqueur, but couldn’t see myself justifying the $30 price tag they come with.  This isn’t so much because of the beverage itself, but because of what other drinks I could mix it with in my collection (or lack thereof).  So I took the sampler’s route and bought a 50 milliliter bottle of the regular chocolate and white chocolate flavors.

It’s been a long time since I had Godiva chocolate, but given their name and reputation, this should be an interesting treat.  The bottles look nice, dark and elegant, almost like some high-class chocolate syrup.  Sometimes a really nice bottle is all it takes to catapult my attention.

Aesthetically, the regular chocolate variant looks like perfect chocolate milk, complete with a silky appearance and almost irish cream-like scent.  As I take an initial sip, the burn from the alcohol faintly lingers about my throat while the chocolate flavor gives off a mild personality.  The burn comes up more as I work my way, but becomes nonexistent on the finish.  I can’t help but think of irish cream mixed with chocolate syrup while I finish what little I have.  This is definitely something that could stand on its own as a post-dinner drink, like eggnog except you’re not limited to one time of the year.

White Chocolate Liqueur Review

Now, I love white chocolate.  I think it’s a bit of an unsung sweet that, when good, holds up on its own.  When paired with the right stuff it’s incredible, but they aren’t always so clear-cut.  It’s kind of like how I view Jameson whiskey–you really need to know what it can and can’t go with.  Needless to say, my hopes are quite high for this one.

Other than the white label, the bottle itself for this sample size is interchangeable.  A bit coy, really.  Once again, we’re talking silky smooth texture here, like a slightly thicker milk.  The burn from the alcohol is far less apparent to me, which is fitting with the mild flavor of white chocolate.  Much like how the chocolate flavor makes me think of irish cream, this one simply makes me think of milk (white chocolate milk, anyone?).  Because the flavor is so unimposing, I don’t really register the fact it’s white chocolate until the finish.

It’s probably my own bias, but on their own, I prefer the white chocolate flavor.  That said, I’m still pretty dry on recipes either of these could be used for, especially the white chocolate variant.  Other than a coffee or milk-esque drink, my creative juices simply aren’t flowing.  I enjoy both on their own, but I’m not so sure I’d shell out the price tag for a whole bottle of either one.

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2013 in Alcohol, Blog, Review

 

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Looking Forward To: 2013

2013 might already be 1/12 the way done, but if Gangster Squad is the best we’ve been treated to thus far, then the good has yet to come.  Okay, so the recent Star Wars announcement was pretty sweet and, in all honesty, I now have no reservations about it.

But whether we’re talking film-related stuff or not, there are some things which the current year has me trembling to get.  So here we go, some of the things I’m curious to see what 2013 holds.

Star Trek Into Darkness

I’m still kicking myself over not catching The Hobbit in IMAX so I could catch the Star Trek Into Darkness prologue.  At the very least, this ties for my most hotly anticipated film of 2013.  To my surprise, 2009’s Star Trek was something I instantly fell in love with, and the first two trailers for Into Darkness had no trouble selling me.  Like a kid who first saw Harry Potter, I’m driving myself mad wanting to see what this sequel will actually provide.

The Place Beyond the Pines

Some might say Limitless was Bradley Cooper’s initial attempt to be taken seriously, but it wasn’t after Silver Linings Playbook that he actually had me convinced.  Now we have The Place Beyond the Pines, where he shares the screen with Ryan Gosling, Ray Liotta and Eva Mendes.  After seeing the trailer, I really wish I had the chance to go to TIFF last year.  Thankfully, the film isn’t far away from its wide release and it’s already looking like a Top 5 contender for me.  Hopefully it will deliver a similar effect to something like Mystic River did in its accomplishment at giving your mentality a true cage beating.

Catching Fire

I (finally) read The Hunger Games around the turn of the new year, and in a nutshell, I though the first 310 pages were solid, but those last 60 pages…I felt strangled.  If there’s anything Suzanne Collins is an expert at, it’s leaving you wanting more.  The book ended in such a way that it rattles me apart to not pick up and read Catching Fire before the film comes out, much less the first teaser.  Unfortunately, I already know how the book ends (thanks a lot, Cracked and Amazon), but I’m also interested to see how this ending will be led up to.  And the pain of not (further) ruining the movie for myself proves tougher and tougher every day.

Evan Williams CInnamon Reserve

In the status update for my blog, I showed interest in covering and reviewing alcoholic beverages.  Specifically, I’d be talking about spirits and cordials.  One company that’s recently caught my attention is the generally affordable Evan Williams.  I’ve already tried their “spiced” eggnog, which felt a tad harsh was while still being tasty, as well as their Honey Reserve, which is a surprisingly decent option.  And wouldn’t you know it?  While browsing for recipes to use my bottle on, I found they’re releasing a Cinnamon Reserve variant, which will make for a trio of Reserves thanks to Cherry Reserve (that’s a lot of Reserves).

Saivon Lapsi by Eternal Tears of Sorrow

Set aside the name and Eternal Tears of Sorrow are a fairly conventional, yet enjoyable, group.  Though they’ve slipped since the excellent A Virgin and a Whore, there’s still some symphonic/melodic fun to be had with their sound.  The released music video for their new album is definitely more akin to their 2010 release which, though not bad, isn’t nearly as inspired as I’d like them to be.  Still, they tend to deliver some good material amidst less inspired parts, so hopefully Saivon Lapsi won’t skimp out too much.

Ethera by VIsions of Atlantis

Congratulations, Visions of Atlantis, you’re finally getting a second album out with the same lead singer!  When I brought up this group to the heavy metal club at my college, our president immediately compared them to Lacuna Coil.  I see a bit more Nightwish, but hey, to each their own.  Either way, the band gives us some very cheesy stuff; though to be fair, that’s to be expected with power and symphonic acts.  I thought Trinity and Delta were both fun works in spite of these inherit shortcomings, so hopefully we’ll get plenty of the energy much of Delta offered up.

Circle by Amorphis

I seem to fall back on bands who, though I definitely like, have trouble releasing truly great material as of recent.  Amorphis slipped after the excellent Silent Waters on Skyforger, and The Beginning of Times left little to no lasting impression.  The band’s core sound does still work, but it seems like many of the times they experiment it produces very mixed and forced results, at best.  Hopefully Circle will harken back to Silent Waters and maybe a bit of Eclipse, which I’d compare to Dream Theater’s Images and Words.  Why?  Because it’s metal while being relaxing, two things that normally shouldn’t go hand-in-hand, but somehow both groups pulled it off.

Bioshock Infinite

The last time I could really game passionately was my first two years of college, back when financial stability was some sort of a reality for me.  But between game prices, an all around overemphasis on (online) multiplayer and generally stagnant progress, gaming has essentially been kept on my back-burner.  But Bioshock Infinite just might be the next new release I purchase, the last one being Halo 4.  I’m a huge fan of the first Bioshock and the second, though I haven’t finished and not as good for what I’ve played, is still solid.  The previews for Infinite look terrific and hopefully the elevated location won’t compromise a lack of linearity for eye candy.

Grand Theft Auto V

Just going to come out and say it: I’m not a GTA fan.  I really like Saints Row, but GTA has never honestly struck that chord I wish it would.  The GTA games have always been games more of curiosity than complete and utter enjoyment to me.  So yes, the trailers and announcements for GTA V have me interested, but I want to know just how FUN the game will actually be.  GTA IV played and handled so sluggishly that it made entertainment more scarce than it needed to be.  I honestly got more fun out of seeing my character fly out of vehicles and get splatter than I did actually playing any of the missions.  Hopefully GTA V will have a more refined feel as opposed to being, well, GTA IV.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2013 in Alcohol, Blog, Film, Movies, Music, videogames

 

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