Movie of the Month - October, 2005

September 20th, 2005

Mel Brooks Appreciation Month!

Blazing Saddles | Buy it from Amazon |


The railroad's bound to run right through the sleep town of Rock Ridge. Land there will be worth a fortune - but the townfolk already own their land. How do you drive them out? Send in the roughest, toughest, meanest, leanest gang you've got...and appoint a new sheriff you figure will last about 24 hours.

But that's not really the plot of Blazing Saddles, just the pretext. Once Mel Brooks' lunatic film - many call it his best - gets under way, logic is lost in a blizzard of gags, jokes, quips, puns, howlers, growlers, and outrageous assaults upon good taste - or any taste at all.

Cleavon Little as the new lawman, Gene Wilder as the wacko Waco Kid, Brooks himself as dimwitted politico and Madeline Kahn in her Marlene Dietrich sendup that earned an Academy Award nomination all give this sagebrush saga their lunatic best. And when Blazing Saddles can't contain itself at the finale, it just proves the Old West will never be the same!

Young Frankenstein | Buy it from Amazon |

Young FrankensteinMel Brooks' monstrously crazy tribute to Mary Shelley's classic pokes hilarious fun at just about every Frankenstein movie ever made. Summoned by a will to his late grandfather's castle in Transylvania, young Dr. Frankenstein (GENE WILDER) soon discovers the scientist's step-by-step manual explaining how to bring a corpse to life. Assisted by the hunchbacked Igor (MARTY FELDMAN) and the curvaceous Inga (TERI GARR), he creates a monster (PETER BOYLE) who only wants to be loved. CLORIS LEACHMAN, MADELINE KAHN, KENNETH MARS, and GENE HACKMAN co-star in this inspired vision of lunacy.

Mel Brooks' History of the World Part I | Buy it from Amazon |

Mel Brooks' History of the World Part IMel Brooks' uproarious version of history proves nothing is sacred as he takes us on a laugh-filled look at what really happened throughout time. His delirious romp features everything from a wild send-up of "2001" to the real stories behind the Roman Empire (Brooks portrays a stand-up philosopher at Caesar's Palace), the French Revolution (Brooks reigns as King Louis XVI) and the Spanish Inquisition (a splashy song-and-dance number with monks and swimming nuns.) It's Mel and company at their hilarious best.

Spaceballs | Buy it from Amazon |

SpaceballsMay the farce be with you in this hysterically funny space oddity, created by comic genius Mel Brooks, that will send you into hyperspace with fits of laughter! Lampooning everything from Star Wars to Star Trek, this outrageous send-up of epic sci-fi movies is full of cosmic crazies who score "eight trillion on the laugh meter" (Gene Shallit, NBC-TV)!

Fearless - and clueless - space heroes Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and his half man/half dog sidekick Barf (John Candy) wage interstellar warfare to free Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) from the evil clutches of Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis). On the way to the rescue - in their Winnebago - they confront the huge, gooey Pizza The Hutt (voice of Dom De Luise), sassy robot Dot Matrix (voice of Joan Rivers) and a wise little creature named Yogurt (Brooks), who teaches them the mystical power of "The Schwartz" in order to bring peace - and merchandising rights - to the entire galaxy!


September 19th, 2005

HitchA man who teaches dateless wonders how to become irresistible to women learns just how hard it can be to do it yourself in this romantic comedy. When a guy in New York City wants to make the right impression with a certain lady, Alex "Hitch" Hitchens (Will Smith) is the man he calls. Hitch has made a career out of coordinating a man's first three dates so that they'll show him to his best advantage (for a price, of course), and more than a few have taken women to the altar they first started courting with Hitch's help. But Hitch discovers his own romantic limitations when he falls for Sara (Eva Mendes), a journalist who has her own ideas about romance, and might just expose Hitch's underground business to the world. In the midst of all this, Hitch has his hands full with Albert, a sweet but socially inept man who has enlisted Hitch's services.

Two funny men team up to bring you a funny movie. Kevin James enlists the help of Will Smith, the "Date Doctor", to impress the woman he desires. James is not the only man in New York who seeks out Hitch. He does not give all of the tools, just the tips necessary to get you through the first three dates, then you are on your own.

Will Smith throughout his career has played characters so smooth, so charming, that you cannot help but smile at some of the moves he makes. Where Hitch fell short for me was not doing enough of this. Only one scene has Smith at the bar, with Michael Rappaport of all people, where he approaches a beautiful woman. What I wanted was Hitch, a romantic comedy, to focus more on the comedy and less on the romantic.

Kevin James, a hilarious stand-up comedian and star of TV's King of Queens, was more awkward than funny. They could have cast someone far less talented in his role and done just as well. He was overqualified.

Quick spoiler, so close your eyes if you've not yet seen the movie. I was very disappointed that Kevin James actually got the girl he sought after. I thought the right move would be to show her as more than meets the eye, to the disappointment of James, then have him meet the unlikely love of his life in Casey, friend of Hitch's girl.

The movie started out very well, but then slowly tapered off. Was it good? Yes. Could they have simply done more with it? Absolutely.

| Buy it from Amazon | Discuss it |

September 19th, 2005
Underneath this flabby exterior is an enormous lack of character.
- Oscar Levant

The Mystery Egg

September 19th, 2005

What a way to start off the week. Making myself breakfast this morning I came across The Mystery Egg. If you have never encountered one of your own, please allow me a moment to explain. In my carton of eggs I noticed one was a bit larger than the rest; oversized if you will. Not only do I enjoy eating, but eggs are on the list of things I like. A bigger egg in my carton pleased me to no end. You can imagine my sudden guilt as I felt that I was cheating the system. I had paid for 12 normal eggs, and not 11 normal eggs plus 1 behemoth egg. I was originally leaning towards it being an ostrich egg, but women's intuition tells me maybe it is not an ostrich, but rather a Tyranasaurus Rex egg! Wait, women's intuition? Ignore that.

It was one egg to rule them all, and I here it was in my carton...rather, stuck to my carton. Disappointment set in as, in the realm of eggs, one stuck to the carton means that it is a broken one. When chipped and/or cracked, spilt contents will adhere rather strongly to the carton. If common sense does not tell you this already, please disregard this egg. Attempting to consume such an egg would not produce healthy results.

After some careful massaging and caressing of my gargantuan egg, I finally was able to sever the carton's grip and my egg was free at last. Disappointment became elation when after my ordinary and prudent review, the egg shell was solid and completely intact.

I am no egg connoisseur, but I do purchase them from time to time for various purposes, or purpi if it pleases you. Cooking, baking, decorating your favorite teacher's house, whatever. One thing that I have never come across in my short time on Earth is an egg such as this. Not only was it a bit bigger than usual, but it also has some...issue...with its contents. An exercise for us to do together is this: go to your refrigerator and pull an egg out of the carton. Now, hold it near your ear and shake it gently. You should not hear anything, nor should you feel anything as the contents dance inside the shell. My mystery egg failed one, not both of those criteria.

Something was definitely moving inside my egg. Not on its own, but moving none the less. After careful deliberation, I have decided not to eat the mystery egg, but this chapter of my life will not close so easily. There is one piece of my puzzle missing. The way I see it, there are two options before me.

1. Defy the burning curiosity and dispose of the mystery egg, never to hear from it again.

This option may be the safest for mankind if the mystery egg may contain the apocalypse. How guilty would I feel if I unleash the end of the world? Tell me you would like that on your conscience. Not me, no thanks.

2. Take ownership of the curiosity and crack the egg.

I would not eat the mystery egg, that ship has sailed. However, I feel that I may contribute something to the state of modern science with my examining the contents of the mystery egg. You never know, it may contain the cure for cancer; or maybe even herpes. Imagine NOT getting your picture on the cover of Time Magazine for curing herpes all because you didn't crack open the mystery egg. Sounds glamorous, but it is not without danger. The risk here is that I may develop such a debilitating phobia of eggs that I am unable to even hear a chicken cluck. The contents may be so absolutely disgusting that I cannot go near another egg, mystery or not. I am not sure that is a wager that I can afford to make.

No one ever explains to you the hard choices you will have to make in life, when you are a child. I am not sure I am adequately prepared for this. I do not consider my parents entirely at fault, but I do vow to you that my child(ren) will be equipped with the tale of the mystery egg. The next generation will be ready...

September 18th, 2005
Empire RecordsWarren: Who glued these quarters down?
A.J.: I did.
Warren: What the hell for, man?
A.J.: I don't feel that I need to explain my art to you, Warren.

Disturbed? Maybe.

September 15th, 2005

Wil and Katie came over the other night for "movie night" and we, after a simple process of elimination, decided upon Requiem For A Dream. Great movie, don't get me wrong. I have seen it multiple times, and though it will never be easy to accept the events of the movie as real, they don't bother me anymore. Or at least I thought not.

I slept through the night well enough, the only sign that something was a, was the song in my head as I awoke. If you remember, this is not the first time I have considered my own sanity based upon early morning song choice. This time was only slightly different. Instead of Mark Hamill singing Luke Be A Jedi Tonight, it was Baloo from Jungle Book doing his rendition of "The Bare Necessities".

Granted I do not know the words to this song beyond "It's the...bare...necessities...". How one could wake up with a song in their head though only knowing 4.5 words is beyond me.

The more I have thought about it though, those words alone relate rather well two fold to "Requiem". Either in the approach that Requiem shows the horrors of drug use and you should avoid them and stick to the Bare Necessities, or in that for junkies being able to "push off" is the Bare Necessity. Makes you think. Or well, makes me think.

Don't tell me you have never (over)analyzed anything!

Parmigiano and Herb Chicken Breast Tenders

September 14th, 2005

Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray

Olive oil, for frying
1 1/2 pounds chicken breast tenders
Salt and pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten with 1/4 cup water
2 cups Italian style bread crumbs
1 cup shredded Parmesan
6 sprigs or stems fresh thyme leaves, stripped and chopped, 2 to 3 tablespoons
6 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped, 3 tablespoons
2 handfuls chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Chicken Parmigiano, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a nonstick cookie sheet in oven with a tin foil liner.
Heat 1/2-inch oil in a large nonstick skillet or frying pan over medium to medium high heat.
Season chicken tenders with salt and pepper. Wash hands. Place flour in a shallow dish. Beat eggs with water in a second dish along side the flour. In a third dish, combine the breading ingredients. Coat chicken in flour, then egg, then bread and cheese mixture. To keep your hands clean, ask for plastic gloves at the butcher counter. To ease your clean up, try using disposable tin pie tins for the flour, egg and bread crumbs.
Cook chicken until deeply golden on each side, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to cookie sheet in preheated oven and finish off for another 5 minutes cooking time. Cook chicken 5 or 6 tenders at a time in a single layer, adding additional oil if necessary. If the chicken begins to brown too quickly lower heat slightly. Serve chicken hot or cold with green salad or, complete as a Parmigiano.

Simple Tomato Sauce for Chicken Parmigiano:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small white onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14 ounce) can chunky style crushed tomatoes
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth or stock
A handful fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
Coarse salt
1 1/2 cups shredded provolone
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 pound spaghetti, cooked to al dente

Set water on to boil for pasta and prepare according to package directions for al dente. Before coating chicken, add oil, onions and garlic to a saucepan to cook medium low heat. Stir occasionally for 10 minutes while you are working on the chicken. Add both cans of tomatoes and a cup of chicken broth and bring sauce to a bubble. Reduce heat to a simmer until ready to serve. Stir in torn basil and season sauce with salt, to your taste.
Place a little of the sauce on the chicken tenders, top with the shredded provolone and Parmigiano. Place in oven or broiler to melt the cheese and then serve. Coat the hot, cooked pasta lightly with sauce then serve.

I cannot in good faith say that I made any "modifications" to this recipe, but I will surely admit that what I made was a bit different. Allow me to explain.

The recipe calls for:
Thyme, I accidentally bought Tarragon (I was on the phone in the store, sorry). So that was omitted.
Rosemary, I think this is much to overpowering of a flavor. This was omitted.
Parsley, bought it. Too lazy to add it. Omitted.
Garlic, completely forgot. Omitted.

Everything else I did followed the recipe to the letter. Well, the top portion, anyway. I did not opt for the conversion to chicken parm. I did employ some Marinara sauce on the side for dipping, however.

My only recommendation for future use of this recipe is to add slightly to your egg mixture and then double your chicken. I had an overwhelming excess of my breading that I would have liked to use if I'd had the time tonight, but I was under a small time constraint. Good recipe. This is one I will hang on to.

That's a load off my mind.

September 14th, 2005

Well, I should be able to sleep easier. It is something I have not done well for about as long as I can remember; sleep that is. Maybe what was bothering me is now less heavy on my mind.

Why am I perpetually single? Here I thought I had commitment issues. Turns out I was way off. In fact, it is much much worse; though the two are somewhat related.

What have been nagging at the back of my mind are...are you ready?
... Minivans.

Minivans have a reputation for poor maneuverability and performance in comparison with other types of vehicles. They are also the vehicle of choice for large suburban families. Minivans have been mocked for those attributes by the media. -Wikipedia

I am 24 years old. I can't drive a minivan yet! I understand that not everyone, when they have children, opts for the minivan as mode of transportation, but what if I do?

Many might tell me that I am over-reacting, but have you ever sat down and thought about it? I know some grown men with families, SUV men, roomy sedan men, when in fact they are now minivan men. Not only will I never forget the look on one family friend's face as he was legitimately excited about hearing something about a new feature in sliding side door technology, but I believe it is burned into my retinas.

Ok, so minivans aren't for everyone. Not all families need them, not all men grow up to own and drive them. I am certain that there is a particular pedigree of males who will at some point in their life become excited by the latest and greatest features available in a minivan. There is nothing wrong with that. You don't need me to tell you that, car companies wouldn't manufacture them if they weren't able to sell them.

The question becomes What if I fit the profile? What if it is in my DNA, my very genetic fibers, that I am going to drive a minivan when I have children? It must be considered a huge milestone in one man's life when he finally thinks having a minivan of his very own is a good idea. It is THAT to which I cannot commit.

"A mini-van is not the car of a warrior." - Marysia (A/K/A "some random site thanks to Google.") You hear that? Not the car of a warrior. You got that right! How can I drive a car not fit for a warrior? Ok maybe, just maybe, I am reaching a little bit with the warrior thing.

Anyway, I am glad that I was able to locate the source of my fear. I believe I have had my closure and am now able to move forward. The journey will be an arduous one, there is no doubt of that. I will take it one day at a time. The important thing is that I have the support of family and friends, right?

What's that? Neither family nor friends support me in my plight against the minivan?

Maybe I am doomed...

Grand Lux Cafe - Las Vegas, NV

September 13th, 2005

The idea for Grand Lux Cafe came to life when The Venetian Resort, Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas asked David Overton, Founder of The Cheesecake Factory Restaurants, to create an upscale casual restaurant concept for their property.

Located right in the casino at The Venetian, Grand Lux Cafe is easy to find. There are even signs posted directing you to the door. Once you are there, seating options are inside the restaurant or at one of the tables that is out in the casino.

My only complaint from the trip was what I imagine to be the only complaint I would ever have with the Grand Lux, the iced tea was not very good. My dissatisfaction goes no further. In fact, from there my satisfaction actually grows rapidly.

I believe on the menu it is listed as Creamy Spinach and Cheese Dip...though more commonly Spinach and Artichoke dip...and it just might be the best I have ever had. The dip is served with plenty of tortilla chips, so you never have to worry about running out of things to dip, a problem I frequently encounter at other restaurants.

If you are familiar with the menus at The Cheesecake Factory, then you understand how overwhelmed you can feel at Grand Lux Cafe as well. So many items on the menu and they all sound good. There just aren't enough hours in the day for a menu like that, but you have to start somewhere.

I ordered the Fried Chicken. The meal I anticipated, a breast/thigh/leg with a side of mashed potatoes, would have been right for how hungry I was. The meal I got, a veritable mountain of chicken strips with a side of mashed potatoes, was a bit more than I could handle. I think the chicken was like $13-14. You cannot beat that.

Grand Lux has locations in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston and Chicago with two future locations of Garden City, NY and Sunrise, FL. At least in the cities where there are currently locations, there are so many restaurants and I always try to not go to the same place twice when I travel since there are so many options. I will have to fight to stick to that when I have the option to go back to Grand Lux Cafe. The place is even open 24 hours (in Las Vegas)!

September 12th, 2005

You are filial, kind and trustworthy.