Friday, June 25, 2010

Thoughts on LOST so far

I am going to try and keep this post as spoiler-free as possible, as I know there are several people reading this blog that would like to try this experiment themselves.  However, there will be very minor things revealed here, like names and events that everyone knows about (the plane crashes, dude!).

For those of you that don't know, I am in the middle of a big experiment with the show LOST, which is as a newbie to the show (well, now former newbie), to watch the show in chronological order, not the order in which episodes were aired.  Doing this required an insane amount of research to get everything right, and as I'm now watching the show in the "present day" i.e. the crash and the events following the crash, I'm realizing that I must have missed some flashbacks, as relationships seem different in some cases than they would have been based on their last flashback, and in one case I'm not even sure how some characters ended up in Australia.

So it is still a work in progress, but I'm confident that I've watched the bulk of the flashbacks, and all I can say is if you haven't watched the show before, this is a GREAT way to do it, and I highly recommend it.  I was confident it would be when I started this both because I felt that the mystery parts of the show wouldn't be as interesting as the character development (and so far I've been very right about that) and because every one of my friends that had been religious LOST fans thought that it would be awesome.

Now that I've started watching the events on the island, I've been very pleasantly surprised by how consistent the characters have been even in the first episodes with their flashbacks, even though the flashbacks I watched spanned three seasons.  This isn't true in all cases, but it's clear that a fair number of the characters were fully realized by the writers even in the first or second episode, which is a great accomplishment.  Doing this has also made some scenes in the first couple of episodes be extremely poignant where they wouldn't have been otherwise (one in particular is an early exchange between Jack and Kate where Jack (and the viewer that hasn't watched the flashbacks) doesn't know Kate's past but unintentionally alludes to it and she has a strong reaction), and has made a couple of character's actions be even stranger and mysterious than they would have been otherwise (Sun and Locke in particular).

I will be trying to make the order I've been watching the show in available as soon as I can, but I really do want to watch the whole show first to ensure I haven't missed anything.  I'm also going to contact the creators of the show about this and see if I can get them to back it and give me some information about events that don't have a very clear date.  This will likely take a long time, as I have many episodes to get through.  However, I've also decided, contrary to my last post, to try and watch the show as fast as possible rather than only watching one day on the island per one day of viewing, so that I can finish this sooner rather than later.

Anyhow, great show so far!  I've been pleasantly surprised by this whole experience, and I hope that continues.  I'll check back in with any major development, like me contacting the creators or when I finish.  Now get LOST. :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sandwich 89: Eggplant Parmesan from No. 7 Sub

No. 7 Sub is an offshoot of a restaurant in Fort Greene called No. 7, which is a more traditional restaurant.  No. 7 Sub, which is located in an odd spot (more about this in a second), is just a sandwich shop, and located in Manhattan.  Its address is the same as the Ace Hotel, and it was advertised as being in the lobby of the hotel.  I got off the subway and started walking to the corner to enter the hotel, but as I was walking, I glanced a place on the street that looked like a trendy sandwich shop.  Before I got to the corner, I realized the likelihood of two trendy sandwich shops within a fifty-foot radius of each other was unlikely, and walked back to discover that indeed, it was No. 7 Sub.  So yeah, NOT in the lobby of the Ace Hotel.

Anyhow, the place itself was tiny, and the employees seemed both hipster and WAY too enthusiastic about their job; they were joking with each other and had big smiles on the whole time.  It was honestly surreal.  But I got my sandwich quickly, and took it back to the office:

Not the most attractive sandwich of all time, but it was pretty tasty.  The eggplant was deep fried, and the parmesan cheese was melted and delicious.  There were also barbecue chips inside of the sandwich, which gave it a nice crunch and added flavor.  The bread was also really good and crisp.  Overall, not a very memorable sandwich, but solid all around.  It was somewhat expensive ($9) but it was large and tasty.  3.6 out of 5.

Updates, updates, updates

So sorry about the lack of updates lately; no good reason except that I've been watching an average of three hours of LOST flashbacks a night to try and get to the "present day" in the show as early as possible.  And I actually did it!  Here are some quick bullet points about what's up with me:

  • Everything's good, but the summer quarter of grad school has started up, making me have much, much less time to update.  I will though, I promise.
  • The sandwich adventure is postponed for the next couple of weeks while I take a vacation in Los Angeles.  If I have a car, I may try and do some of the sandwiches on the LA list from the same website.  I do have one more NYC sandwich post to make, which should happen tomorrow morning.
  • I'll post a summary of my thoughts on going through every LOST flashback tonight.  Short version: It was AWESOME, and I can't wait to formalize the order and make it available in some form to the general public.  Having watched a portion of the Pilot (which takes place over the first two days on the island, so I only watched the footage from the first day last night), knowing the character's back stories early has already made several scenes way more poignant than they would have been otherwise.  Also, I plan now on watching the show in "real time," in other words watching making each daily viewing only cover one day on the island.  The survivors spend something like 100 days on the island, so it'll take me 100 days to watch their adventures.  Should be a blast. :)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sandwich 90: Harissa Honey Roasted Chicken Breast from The Smile

So sorry about how late this post is.  I wish I had an excuse, but it's really laziness/a three day weekend. :)

Anyhow, The Smile is a very hidden establishment; there's barely any signage for it on the street, and it's down a flight of stairs.  Inside, it has a nice homey, small cafe feel, with waitresses wearing stylish farm girl outfits (of all things) and very low light.  They had some delicious things on the menu such as basil-infused lemonade, but this sandwich was the reason I came:

Beyond the honey roasted chicken breast sandwich, there were also homemade potato chips and scrumptious pickled veggies on the side.  The sandwich was just fine, but not spectacular.  For one thing, there was barely any spice to the dish despite it apparently being made with harissa.  It was also chicken breast, which is never the most exciting meat choice in terms of taste.  But it was a well-balanced sandwich; you could really taste each individual ingredient in every bite.  It was quite expensive for what it was ($11.50), and definitely not worth the price (if it was, say, $8 I'd be happier), but I did leave the meal satisfied.  3.5 out of 5.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sandwich 91: Cheesesteak from 99 Miles to Philly

99 Miles to Philly, which really is a cool name for a restaurant, is so named because of a MapQuest printout with directions from the address of the restaurant to a central location in Philadelphia that show that indeed, it is pretty much exactly 99 miles from those two points on the map.  This place is ten minutes away from my work, and clearly caters to a college crowd; it was oddly empty at noon, but stays open until at least one in the morning most nights, and basically serves up nothing but medium-priced sandwiches and fries.

The sandwich for today was, of course, a Philly Cheesesteak.  This was a situation where I honestly wasn't sure exactly what the list meant for what exact sandwich to order.  At 99 Miles to Philly, you can greatly customize your sandwich beyond the basics of cheese, steak, and onions.  The price listed in the list was $6.95, which was the base price of the sandwich without any customization, but the ingredients were very different from the basic cheesesteak, and would have cost more.  I ended up asking the guy behind the counter what he recommended, and he said a basic sandwich with provolone cheese should do the trick.  I followed his lead and got this:

I had a similar experience with this sandwich to the one I had with yesterday's sandwich, the pulled pork sandwich from Dickson's.  There was nothing inherently wrong with it, and the meat was quite tasty, but there was just nothing exciting about it, and I've had much better cheesesteaks, both in New York and in Los Angeles.  I should point out here that I ended up getting the combo of waffle fries and a drink with it, and the waffle fries were top-notch.  My co-worker Nicole and I devoured them in no time.  Anyhow, 3.4 out of 5.

Quick update on LOST

Just a quick note.  I've decided to not update about LOST here, mainly because I don't think anyone reading this blog would get much out of it, and having to pay deep attention to everything in order to coherently write about it is sort of killing my enjoyment of the show.  So I'm taking notes while I watch, and am also compiling the order I'm watching the show in, so that I can submit it to a LOST website after I watch the whole show (and I'll likely post it here as well).  I may occasionally check in here about the show, but regular updates won't be happening.  Anyhow, stay tuned for the next sandwich later today.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sandwich 92: Pulled Pork Sandwich from Dickson's Farmstand Meats

Dickson's Farmstand Meats is located in the Chelsea Market, and has an interesting layout.  The actual amount of space that a customer can stand in is very limited, but they have a giant kitchen in the back (easily three or four times as big as the space for the customer)  that is totally exposed.  Also, Jack Dickson, the namesake of the place, was standing at the counter and would have taken my order if a huge tour group hadn't come in.  So while I was waiting for the sandwich, I got to hear about the history of the place, and how Jack eschews the meat-packing industry, instead buying all of his meats from local farmers (he literally drives to the farms every week).  They also had Sloppy Joe's that looked very tasty, and apparently a burger patty that consists of 80% beef and 20% bacon!  Anyhow, here's the sandwich:

The slaw on top was billed as "spicy," but it really wasn't very spicy at all.  In fact, that was the problem with the sandwich in general; it was all very tasty and of good quality, but just didn't have any punch to it.  This also suffers from there being some truly excellent pulled pork, and just pork sandwiches in general, throughout New York City.  One would really have to have either an extraordinary sauce or spice or the meat would have to be spectacular to compete, and none of those things are here.  Also, the nine dollar price tag doesn't help matters.  Overall, it was a satisfying sandwich, and there was nothing inherently wrong with it, but you can do much much better in NYC (and I believe the list has other pulled pork sandwiches much higher up).  3.6 out of 5.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sandwich 93: Bombay Pav Vada from Sukhadia's

Sukhadia's is in the heart of one of my least favorite areas of New York, namely the area right around Grand Central.  There are endless tourists and depressed-looking businessmen, and the restaurants in the area tend to, for lack of a better word, suck (there is a huge exception to this general rule: Riki, an awesome Japanese bar-food place about five minutes away from Grand Central that I go to at least once every two weeks).  When I walked into Sukhadia's, I was not encouraged.  It was right around noon, and it was a huge space, and there was no one inside.  The cashier, who was also the person who made my sandwich, took a while to even acknowledge me.  But once he did, he was extremely friendly, actually explained the sandwich to me, and recommended I try the hot sauce on it, which made me feel a bit better.  It took a very short amount of time to get the sandwich, and while it was small, I was intrigued.  I was even more intrigued when I opened up the package in the office...

Notice the awesome juxtaposition of the green Yankees hat and the green chutney sauce.  There is an important thing to know about this sandwich: it is totally vegetarian, as is all the food at Sukhadia's.  Inside the sandwich, there were two deep-fried potato and garlic balls.  I'm not really sure what the bun is, but it was yummy.  In fact, the whole sandwich was pretty great.  The potato balls were delicious, as was the chutney sauce.  The sauce was perfectly spiced; it wasn't overwhelmingly hot, but it still packed a punch and was quite tasty.  For a small sandwich, it was extremely filling; I don't know what they deep-fried the potato balls in, but I had some serious heartburn for a couple of minutes after finishing the sandwich, but it was worth it.  For four bucks, this is a great deal, especially in such a tourist trap area with inflated prices all around.  3.7 out of 5.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sandwich 94: Chicken Talera Sandwich at Mangia

Mangia is a semi-upscale sandwich/salad/pizza place that has four different locations all throughout Manhattan.  I went to the one closest to my office on 23rd Street.  It was pretty crowded (and seemed full of tourists, oddly enough), but it didn't take too long to get the sandwich.  It was prominently displayed on the counter as a featured sandwich, and the people making the sandwich seemed to almost have it pre-made, as I never saw them actually put it together, but instead they just threw something right into the oven, and it resulted in this:

I was underwhelmed by this sandwich.  The two best things about it were the talera bread, which has close to the texture of a croissant, but has more body to it, almost like challah, and the chipotle aioli mayo, which was very tasty.  But the avocado and tomato were of pretty low quality, and the chicken was, in a word, boring.  It was also a pretty small sandwich for a nine dollar item on the menu.  Not really recommended, but there's a good chance that the pizza at Mangia could be very good.  2.9 out of 5. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sandwich 95: "Llanero Completo" at Patacon Pisao #2

Patacon Pisao #2 is a tiny restaurant in Elmhurst, Queens.  When I walked in with my friend Lucian, there was no one in the store, and the guy eyed us a bit suspiciously, I would imagine assuming like the cashier at Roll N Roaster last night that we were not from around these parts.  He even asked us how we had heard of the place.  When I told him about the list, he nodded and said that the guy who wrote the blurb about the sandwich was actually describing a different sandwich than the one he named on the list!!!  It was a subtle difference, but the sandwich he was describing was a "Full" and the sandwich he named was a "Llanero," which actually has less stuff in it than what was described in the writeup.  We trusted the guy behind the counter and ordered the Full, and were told it would take a little bit to prepare.  In the meantime, we tried some decent but not that great empanadas, and I tried out a brand new Venezuelan soft drink called Freskolita:

You can also see the empanadas and the sauces for the empanadas behind the drink.  There was so much sugar in the drink that the can was remarkably heavy, and almost unbearably sweet.  Still, I couldn't complain; it was a new experience, and that's really what this adventure is all about.  Speaking of new experiences:

There's the sandwich.  Yes, the giant thing on top is a plantain; there was one on the bottom as well.  Verdict: not the greatest sandwich of all time; in fact, I was pretty disappointed.  The carne asada was tasty, but there was way too much other stuff masking the meat to be able to really taste it.  Honestly, I wished I'd had the sandwich the reviewer mistakenly put down on the list, as it apparently doesn't have all the other fillings.  This was the exact opposite from Roll N Roaster last night, where the cashier told us that they didn't have lettuce and tomato in their sandwiches.  That's what this needed; to only be the meat and sauce.  But even beyond that, the plantain was not to my taste; it was way too dry and distracted from the rest of the sandwich.  This though I can chalk up to a personal taste preference; I could see how someone could love it, as it has a very distinctive taste, but it just wasn't my thing.

I know I just railed against the sandwich, but I was actually quite satisfied by it.  It was very big, tasty despite all the unnecessary fillings, and again, the carne asada was good, though not great.  It wasn't bad by any means, but it wasn't memorable either; I can barely remember how it tasted beyond the plantain even writing this only a couple of hours later.  If you want to try a new cuisine or type of sandwich, then this might be worth it if you live nearby, but I wouldn't make a special trip.  3 out of 5.

Sucky Lyrics: Jive Jones' "Me, Myself And I"

Today we have a song so heinous, so out of control awful, that I feel a need to post all of the verses (the chorus is more or less just the phrase "Me Myself and I" repeated over and over).  And yes, the song title is a direct ripoff of the wonderful De La Soul song of the same name.   Also, his name is "Jive Jones."  No more need be said about him.

I woke up late
Fell out of bed
Missed the bus to
High school hell
Mom's painting my nails
Reading a magazine
You seem asleep
Me steal the keys
Now I'm the star
Of my neighborhell

Dad, there's no need to yell
'Cause I changed my name
You know that I
Love to do it all the time
I wanta get high
And that's fine

Today I got hate
Made the grade
I guess I'll graduate, oh well
Smoking can kill
Oh how I love these days
You know that I
Love to do it all the time
I wanta get high
And that's fine

I mean, where do I begin with this?  Neighborhell?  You've gotta be freakin kidding me.  That doesn't even make any sense.  Is it supposed to be clever?  Is it just a failed portmanteau?  Is it supposed to showcase Mr. Jones' profound revelation that yes, if you replace one syllable of a word with another syllable, it takes the same amount of time to say the "new" word as it would the original?  Is it supposed to make him look like a dumbass?  I think it's clearly all of these things, but scholars will I'm sure be arguing about the true meaning of the word for decades to come.

Why is Mom painting your nails, "MR." Jones?  Why are you still taking a freakin bus if you're about to graduate from "high school hell," especially if, as you so eloquently put it, "me steal the keys," I assume to the car.  You change your name "all the time?"  What?  Is that some invented slang for getting high?  Also, you're soooo bad because you realize, very wisely I might add, that "smoking can kill," but "that's fine."  Also, wait, you "got hate, made the grade?"  That doesn't even rhyme, and again makes no sense.  Finally, you "love these days?!"  After complaining for the whole song about everything?  In the immortal words of my wonderful boss Karen, "I can't.  I just can't."

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sandwich 98: Turkey Sandwich from Roll n Roaster

This sandwich took some serious commitment from both myself and my wonderful girlfriend Jeni, as we both braved a 45 minute subway ride and a twenty minute walk in the pouring rain (and TWO broken umbrellas during that walk) to make it to Roll N Roaster, in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.  When we walked in, I had a feeling the long trip was going to be worth it, as the smell of fried corn and roast beef hit me as soon as I opened the door, and the people eating in the front room gave us good long stares, like what often happens when someone new walks into an establishment full of regulars.  I walked up to the counter, and the cashier could instantly tell that I was new in town.  Again, I knew I was doing the right thing when I ordered two sandwiches, one roast beef (for Jeni) and one turkey (the one on the list), corn fritters, a baked sweet potato, sweet potato fries (for Jeni), and a (homemade) lemonade, and she grinned and nodded.  Clearly I'd been informed well on what to get.  And it lived up to being "fast food," as it took all of five minutes to get our order.

I'm sorry that I didn't think to take pictures of the sides, but here are the two sandwiches.  And how were they?  OH.  MY.  GOODNESS.  These were without question the best sandwiches I've had so far on this adventure.  My mouth is watering just thinking about them.  I had to focus on the turkey, as it was the sandwich from the list, so I only took a couple of bites from the roast beef, but it was perfectly cooked and filling and had Cheez Whiz as a topping, which was to die for.  My sandwich, the roast turkey, was delicious in a different way.  My roll was lightly dipped in some sort of yummy gravy, and the turkey was absolutely delicious and cooked perfectly as well.  Mine also had Cheez Whiz on it, and while the roll was ever so slightly too dry to complement the turkey perfectly, it was still one of the most satisfying sandwiches I've ever had.  While the roast beef was just a damn delicious sandwich, the turkey had an extra dimension of tasting exactly like Thanksgiving, with the gravy, bread, turkey, and the sweet potato on the side.  For less than five bucks for each sandwich, this is one of the best values I'm aware of in NY.

I also need to comment on the sides.  They were out of this world good, arguably better than the sandwiches.  The corn fritters had a wonderful strong corn flavor, and the sweet potato was possibly the best baked sweet potato I've ever had, with PERFECT seasoning: cinnamon and brown sugar baked right in.

So again, the best sandwich so far, and a place I NEED to go back to with a bunch of friends so I can try everything on the menu.  4.6 out of 5.

Money quote from the night:

Jeni: So do you have lettuce, tomato, that kind of stuff?

Cashier:  Oh no, we don't have that stuff.  Just cheese and grilled onions.

Definitely my kind of place.

Sandwich 97: Chacarero Completo from Barros Luco

Barros Luco is a tiny restaurant in mid-town Manhattan that serves up Chilean sandwiches and empanadas, all freshly made on the premises.  The walls are full of old pictures of I presume Chile, but also of the guy you see on the menu, who I believe is named Barros Luco and was the president of Chile.  He apparently became more famous for ordering a sandwich that eventually was named after him than for his presidency, and that sandwich is of course the featured item on the menu here.  However, the sandwich on the 101 Best Sandwiches List was a different sandwich: the Chacarero Completo...

All that green you can see is a combination of avocado and hearts of palm, and tons of each.  There were also string beans, tomato, banana peppers, mayo, and a mild cheese pretty much baked into the bread.  And guess what?  It was SCRUMPTIOUS.  This is pretty much tied for the best sandwich I've had so far.  The only issue was that the sandwich cooled down significantly on the subway ride back to work; I'll bet it would have been phenomenal piping hot.  But the different ingredients melded together beautifully, the avocado was of much higher quality than is typical for New York, and the hearts of palm were both delicious and provided a very different taste.  I definitely want to go back and try more sandwiches sometime.  4.1 out of 5.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sandwich update coming tomorrow

For some reason, Blogger is having issues with uploading images right now, so I'll have to postpone the sandwich update until tomorrow morning.  I will say this though; the sandwich today was scrumptious.  Se you tomorrow!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sandwich 98: PHO Real from Sunny and Annie's Gourmet Deli

You can't tell from that picture, but Sunny and Annie's is TINY.  There's barely any room to move around, snd you can walk the whole length of the store in about ten seconds.  Most of the selection was like a normal small NYC drug/liquor store.  But the sandwich counter...

Unfortunately, I didn't have enough room to back up and get a full blown picture, but there were a staggering amount of selections, many quite exotic.  I got what you can see listed above, the PHO Real (excellent pun), and actually got two of them, one hot and one cold.  On the subway ride back from the deli, I could see people staring at me, and then I realized it was the smell coming from the bag, which was wondrous.  And the sandwich...

As you can see, it's a monster.  There is a LOT in there, which you can see from the listing above.  The concept is that it's a deconstructed Pho soup as a sandwich (on a kaiser roll?!).  In that respect, it works extremely well; I won't say it tastes exactly like normal pho, but I could taste the resemblance, which is impressive.  The beef was superb, as was the hoisin sauce.  There were way too many onions in mine, which at times overwhelmed the other flavors.  Finally, there was a ton of cilantro, which was tasty but like the onions occasionally overwhelmed the sandwich.

I'm actually really torn about the sandwich.  It was a unique experience, and for the most part absolutely delicious.  It also featured a great combination of different tastes and textures, including sweet, bitter, crunchy, and rich.  However, there really were too many onions and too much cilantro, which left a number of bites feeling unbalanced and overpowering.  Overall, I give it points for the hoisin sauce and beef and the concept, but as a sandwich at times it fell a little flat.  3.4 out of 5. 

Ready to restart LOST

All right, after going through a writeup of every single episode to document the flashbacks (excepting the long 1977 timeline that I'll cover separately), I have put together my new timeline that I will follow.  I can see why the timeline I was following wasn't complete; there are lots of events that don't have discernible dates.  However, there's no excuse for the timeline to be missing most of Season 2, or to completely leave out the flashbacks for one of the characters.  Anyhow, I'll most likely resume this evening.  Phew!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

LOST Reboot

Well, drat!  I discovered, much to my chagrin, that the timeline I was basing my viewing on was quite incomplete.  It doesn't mean I'm scrapping the project by any means, but I'm going to go through the episodes myself to figure out the order, doing my damndest to not spoil too much for myself.  Hopefully I'll be up and running again in a couple of days, but already I have to revise even the order I posted.  Sigh.

Lost Recap Part 4

Whew, so many flashbacks!  All right, I'm going to just briefly describe each flashback here.  In order, I watched:

The Incident Part 1, with a flashback to James Ford at his mom and dad's funeral, and Jacob appearing to comfort him(!!).  He's Our You, where in Iraq a young boy called Sayid shows he's capable of killing a chicken without thinking.  Some Like It Hoth, where a young boy named Miles reveals he can hear the dead speaking to him.  The Glass Ballerina where a young Korean girl named Sun breaks a glass ballerina and then lies about it to her father.  The Variable, with a young math genius named Daniel playing piano, and his mother telling him that anything other than math and science has no place in his life.  Tricia Tanaka Is Dead, where a young boy whose name I'm not sure of has a tender moment with his dad (played by Cheech Marin!!) and then watches him drive off, with the assumption being that he's not coming back.  And finally, The Incident Part 1 again, where a young girl named Katie tries to shoplift, is caught, and then is rescued by Jacob (again!) who pays for the item for her.  Whew!

This was all actually very riveting, but man was there a lot to keep track of!  No less than seven new characters introduced here.  I have a feeling that the majority of these flashbacks are going to mean more when we meet the characters as adults, but there are certainly themes that are similar: piano playing, math and science geniuses that don't want to just do math and science (see Jake from the last recap), bad or overbearing parenting.  The two that seem most significant to the big picture are of course the first and last ones, as they both feature Jacob comforting two kids.  How is Jacob off the island here?!  Why isn't Richard doing this?  I'm sure this will be at least somewhat explained, but right now in the narrative I've followed so far this is utterly baffling.

So, most of the characters are either superlatively gifted or are important to Jacob.  Very intriguing indeed.  See you likely tomorrow with the next recap!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Cabin Fever/The Man Behind The Curtain/White Rabbit

All right, here's Part 3 of my Lost chronological viewing adventure!  For this one, I watched flashbacks in the following order: 

First, Cabin Fever's flashbacks of a new character, John, being born three months early, stared at by Ricardo (who now is definitely going by Richard, so that's what I'm calling him from now on), given up for adoption, and visited by Richard at what looks like 6 years old to see if he's ready to join a special children's school and failing the test.  Then I watched a new character, Ben, also being born premature and killing his mom in the process in the episode The Man Behind The Curtain.  Next, a brief flashback in the episode White Rabbit, introducing another new character, Jack, as a kid who gets beat up by bullies but also stands up to them and then speaks with his dad about it, who tells him that he should never decide to be a hero because he doesn't have what it takes.  Next, I jumped back to Cabin Fever to watch a scene with John in high school being bullied and then helped out by his science teacher, who also tells John that a man named Richard Alpert wants him to go to a special summer camp for gifted students.  When John protests that he's not a scientist, his science teacher tells him that he really is a scientist, and that he shouldn't try to be something he's not, which infuriates John.  Finally, I went back to The Man Behind The Curtain for a long segment with Ben as a kid coming to the island because his dad finds work there with a group called the Dharma Initiative.  His dad gets depressed, Ben starts seeing visions of his dead mom and learns that there's a group called "the hostiles" that the Dharma Initiative are scared enough of to erect a giant sonar fence around their facility (and they get into a firefight with them at one point).  Ben gets fed up with the situation, breaks through the fence, gets lost in the jungle, and suddenly runs into...Richard!  Ben asks Richard if he can join him and his group of "hostiles," and Richard says he might be able to, but that he would have to be very patient.  And that's it.  Whew!

This was surprisingly smooth for jumping between three episodes in three different seasons.  The themes were consistent throughout, and it wasn't tough to keep track of the characters like I was afraid of.  I was also very surprised to see Richard featured so prominently in these flashbacks.  He's completely lost his accent, but I guess that's possible when you've been around for 100+ years and don't age.  The fact that John and Ben were both born prematurely and both run into Richard in some way or another is quite interesting; there may be something about babies being born early and being able to survive that makes them possibly good protectors of the island; they also both lost their mothers, much like Jacob and The Man In Black did.  There's also a theme between all three boys of bad fathers, and of course in one case the complete absence of a father.  Good stuff to build on.

I think I'm going to stop commenting on the production values unless there's something that truly stands out, good or bad, as all the episodes I've watched have been beautifully made.  The acting has been strong throughout, and the writing has been very good except for that first twenty minutes of Across The Sea.  

Next up, more random flashbacks!  Stay tuned! :)

Ab Aeterno

All right, the second LOST episode recap!  For this I watched most of Ab Aeterno and the brief flashback in The Incident Part I of Jacob and The Man In Black watching The Black Rock approaching.

I enjoyed this very very much, although the fact that The Man In Black is still alive somehow is strange.  I guess however that the Smoke Monster is assuming his form, but apparently also has all his memories as well.  At first, I was wondering if the Smoke Monster was something that was being kept in the cave that The Man In Black was thrown into and got released, but I guess not.  I guess the Smoke Monster is more or less The Man In Black, transformed by the island.  And I guess the body of The Man In Black that was buried at the end of Across The Sea was the actual body of the human form of The Man In Black.  I guess you could call the Smoke Monster The Man In Black's soul.  Kind of freaky.

Ricardo, or Richard, is someone who is clearly going to be coming back, as Jacob apparently made him immortal, presumably by having him drink the same thing Mother made him drink in Across The Sea.  His whole story is again representative of what seems to be the show's central theme, namely what does the concept of right vs. wrong really mean?  Indeed, I'd heard the show is very much about faith, and this episode proved it.  

Everything about this episode was very strong.  The acting in particular by all involved was top-notch, way better than Across The Sea; the actor playing Ricardo was especially powerful.  The writing was good, the cinematography was superb, especially at points where the entire screen was almost pitch-black, and the music was varied and intense.  Kudos to everyone that worked on this episode; it was extremely compelling.

Now I need to figure out how i'm going to recap the next bit.  I've gone through the two big flashback episodes, and now have to work my way through all of the small flashbacks.  Expect to see another recap pretty soon though.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sandwich 99: Sesame Pancake With Roast Beef from Vanessa's Dumplings

Now THIS was a sandwich.  This was worlds beyond the other two I've had on the list so far, and was dirt cheap too.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Vanessa's Dumplings is a ten minute walk from where I work, and when I walked in, I could tell it was going to be good.  Lots of customers, five giant woks set up in the open kitchen, fresh dumplings being made by hand five feet away from me.  We actually got a bunch of food from here for the office today, and when the woman behind the counter heard that we wanted FOUR of these sandwiches, she couldn't believe it.  But there you go.  We also had some delicious shrimp dumplings, and I had a tasty and quite large almond milk bubble tea.  But the sandwich...

Oh man, was the sandwich GOOD.  Perfectly cooked roast beef, tons of scrumptious pickled carrots and cucumbers, a wonderful toasted sesame bun, and a sprinkling of cilantro that kicked in every so often that added another dimension to the flavors of the sandwich.  There was also optional hot sauce, which was tasty but not necessary.  Oh, and it was three dollars.  THREE DOLLARS.  Unreal.

I'm a bit hesitant to give this five stars, since there are so many more sandwiches on the list, but it's above a 4 for me.  So I'm modifying my scale.  I'm going to be introducing decimal points now to have more flexibility with my grading, and I've gone back and adjusted the grades on the other sandwiches as well.

Anyhow, this sandwich gets a huge recommendation from me, and I plan on going back many more times to try other items on the menu.  4.2 out of 5.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

LOST: Across The Sea

And so it begins.  I assume there were lots of things explained in this episode that had come up before, and little references to past episodes.  But seeing as how this was the first ever Lost episode I've watched, I knew absolutely none of that, and just watched it as sort of a self-contained story.  And how was it?

Pretty good, actually.  Not great, but I definitely got into it near the end, and am interested in watching more.  So that's good! :)

This is clearly an origin story, but unlike lots of origin stories in plot-driven shows or stories, there was an enormous amount of mystery surrounding, well, everything, and very little if really anything was tangibly explained.  How did the cycle of protectors of the island begin?  What's up with magnets (I assume this is a recurring theme)?  What the heck was up with the vision of the unnamed twin's, who I guess is The Man In Black, one of the few names I do know from the show, real mother (did that come from the island to try and dissuade The Man In Black from becoming its protector)?  Why was Mother so insane throughout, pitting one twin against the other?  Why did The Man In Black think sailing into the light would work (probably because Mother lied constantly, so why wouldn't she be lying about that as well)?  

Unfortunately, I know that none of these questions are ever going to get answered, but in a way, I like that.  And this is exactly why I wanted to watch the show chronologically.  I had no expectations going into this episode, and am going to use these questions as the foundation for the rest of the show.  I actually think knowing about the protectors of the island concept from the beginning is going to make all the crazy stuff that happens later more powerful in a way.  Sure, I'll lose some "mystery," but I think I'll gain emotional relevance.  I'll make that trade any day.

The writing and the acting in the beginning was pretty atrocious, and I was seriously considering stopping this idea early on.  It was so hokey and simplistic, and the kids, while they looked great, felt like they were reading bad lines rather than talking.  But as soon as they became adults, things suddenly got much much better.  The acting was much deeper, the writing seemed to get subtler (maybe it was just the better acting), and the whole mystery of the island with the glowing light and the protectors started to feel like it actually meant something, like there would be great consequences no matter what.  I especially liked that The Man In Black, after living with the shipwrecked people for a while, discovered that he thought they were evil, like Mother said he would, which made his whole relationship with Mother, and the shipwrecked villagers, much more complex than they could have been otherwise.

So I think the show has a lot of potential going forward after this episode.  The next set of reviews are going to be a bit scattered, as I'm going to be watching all of the flashbacks in chronological order.  Next up is Ab Aeterno, with the flashback from The Incident Part 1 in the 1800s mixed in.  After that, I don't think I'll be watching a full episode for a very long time.  Anyhow, pretty good stuff.  I kind of want to go watch Ab Aeterno right now, actually! :)

The Chronological LOST Viewing Marathon Begins

Hello Lost fans far and wide, and welcome to my little experiment here.  

In one sentence: I'm going to be watching Lost for the first time in chronological i.e. not episodic/airdate order, and am going to blog about it, one episode at at time.

In much more than one sentence:  I'm a pop culture junkie.  I love keeping up with pop culture as much as possible.  And yet, somehow, I missed out on Lost.  It was likely because I was in college and didn't have TV when it first aired, and by the time I had the ability to watch it on TV, it was already on its third season, and I felt like it would be too maddening (and take too much of my time and money) to try and catch up.  Through osmosis, I did find out about the time jumps and flashbacks, and an idea started to slowly hatch in my head.

I knew from the beginning that there was no way that the show was ever going to really explain all of the mysteries and mythology surrounding the show.  There had just been too many things that had built up over time, and the show, from the little I knew about its style and plot, always struck me as being more about how how the characters reacted to the strange things happening on the island rather than the strange things themselves.  Therefore, I realized that it might be interesting to try to watch the show chronologically rather than episodically, as doing that would allow me to likely understand character motivations from the very beginning, as well as possibly not be quite as maddening to keep track of week in and week out.  

When I heard that the third to last episode of the series was a flashback to the early days of the island, I was ecstatic, as I had a clear starting point for this instead of just beginning at a random short flashback.  So I'll begin with Across The Sea and work from there.  

After doing a lot of deliberating and research, I've decided to view the episodes in a somewhat strange order, but one that I think will make for the best narrative experience possible and still stay true to the chronological experience.  Originally, I was going to watch the episodes set in 1977 before I even saw the plane crash, as well as try to watch the crazy constant timeflashes that happen before the survivors on the island get to 1974.  However, I realized that there would be a lot of emotional drama lost if this was how I was introduced to many of the main characters.  It would likely also be strange to have the characters remember all of their experiences on the island, and react to seeing some people they had already encountered before, while I would have no idea what they were talking about.  Anyhow, here's the basic order of how I'm going to watch the episodes:

1. Everything pre-crash (including all flashbacks) excepting any episodes that show the main characters experiencing timeflashes (including 1977 and the huge number of timeflashes in the beginning of Season 5)

2. The crash and the 108 days spent on the island after it.

3. All of the timeshifts for the people remaining on the island until they get to 1974.

4. All footage showing the survivors that get off the island from 2005-2007.

5. The 1977 episodes.

6. The rest of the main timeline through to the last episode.

7. All of the sideways timeline.

You can see that I'm making a sort of controversial decision to watch the sideways timeline all at once, after the main narrative.  Based on what the sideways timeline really is, and based on how it ends the whole show, I actually think this might be an extremely effective way to watch the show, and it might be more poignant than the way it was presented.

All right, after all of that, a quick rundown of what I know and don't know about the show (minor spoilers here).  While I do know some basic plot points due to the research I needed to do to get that viewing order in place, I made sure to make it so that I learned virtually no character development, and even the plot points I know have no context.

I know:

A plane crashed on the island.
All revelations that happened in the last episode (such as what the sideways timeline really is).
There's someone named Jacob and someone named The Man In Black that are related somehow and are from the island (or something).
There are characters named Locke, Jack, Kate, and Hurley, and I know that Jack is played by Matthew Fox and Locke is played by Terry O'Quinn.
There's something called a Smoke Monster, and at some point there was a polar bear, I think in Season 1.

What I don't know:

Everything else. :)

I don't want to create a set schedule for this experiment, as my life can be very unpredictable in terms of how much work I have (I'm extremely busy in general).  There may be weeks that go by without a post, and I may do posts for multiple days in a row.  In fact, there might be an off chance that in the next several weeks I'll try and cover more than one episode a day.  We shall see.

I hope you enjoy this, and maybe it will help you experience the show in a new way.  All I ask is that in the comments you don't spoil anything for me.  And as a warning, for those of you who haven't seen the show before and don't want it utterly ruined or would like to watch it the "normal" way, these posts will be filled with spoilers.  I'll update with Across The Sea soon.  Thanks! 

Sandwich 100: The Elvis at Peanut Butter & Co.

This was about the worst possible day for a peanut butter sandwich: extremely hot, muggy, and unbearably sunny.  But I'm committed to this quest, and so I trudged down to Sullivan Street right off of Washington Square Park to Peanut Butter & Co., a cute little sandwich shop, to try sandwich #100, "The Elvis."  Supposedly, Elvis (Presley, not Costello) flew from Memphis to Denver just to have his favorite version of it.  So what the heck would compel someone to fly all that way?

I'll give you a hint: it's not the keyboard.  The sandwich, which was surprisingly hard to photograph, is a peanut butter, honey, and banana sandwich on white toast.  Oh yeah, and there's BACON.  Lots of it, actually.  It came served with potato chips and, get ready, three carrot sticks.  One thing that's hard to tell from the photograph is that it was a huge sandwich; it took some time to finish just half of it.

After the first bite, I didn't really get it.  It was just a decent but not outstanding peanut butter banana and honey sandwich; the bacon didn't really seem to factor in.  But then the next bite had more bacon, and I was taken aback.  The bacon was very salty and strong, and it made for a surprisingly delicious sandwich.  It was certainly unusual.

Overall, this wasn't quite worth the steep 9 dollar price (with tax), but it was definitely a great experience and one every sandwich lover should probably try; it is definitely unique, I'll give it that, and quite tasty too.  Still, it is hard to get around the fact that you could easily recreate this sandwich for yourself for much less than 9 bucks.  2.8 out of 5.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sandwich 101: Tuna Melt on Rye from Eisenberg's

For context, click here.

Eisenberg's is less than ten minutes from where I work on Fifth Avenue.  Walking into it is utterly surreal; it's a tiny, narrow diner, clearly from a far-gone era.  The menus look like they haven't been updated or changed in thirty years, the cashier, a sweet woman in probably her 70s, looks like she's worked there forever, and there's more counter space than available tables.  The prices, while not cheap, are more than reasonable, and the people eating there all looked like long-time regulars.  At first, everyone was staring at me a little bit when I walked in, but as soon as I ordered the tuna melt on rye, the first sandwich on the list, everything returned to normal.  I had chosen correctly.

I had a feeling it was going to be good when it took quite some time to get the sandwich (I actually ordered two, one for myself and one for my fabulous office mate Nicole), and the sandwich did not disappoint.

Not the greatest picture, I know, but I'll get better.  It wasn't that impressive to look at anyways.  The taste is what mattered here, and let me tell you, it was a damn fine tuna melt.  There was nothing spectacular about it, but the tuna and cheese were top-notch, and what struck me about the sandwich was that it was very balanced; you could taste each ingredient equally with every bite.  It was also a perfectly proportioned sandwich; I felt completely satisfied afterwards without feeling overly full.  Overall, a very solid sandwich, and a great start to the journey.  Also, the pickles included with the sandwich were delish.  I'd eat it again.  3 out of 5.

Tomorrow: The Elvis!

Sucky Lyrics: Tino Coury's Diary

If you asked me right now what I know about Tino Coury, I could only tell you that he looks like a total tool, puts a freakin STAR in the O in his first name, and is probably going to be a one or two hit wonder.  And he also sings one of the most annoying songs I've ever heard.  It's called Diary, and it's about a boy (I assume) going through his girlfriend's diary (what the hell) and discovering that she loves someone else and getting pissed off.  Now, I assume we're supposed to feel sympathy here, but uh, I've got none buddy.  A diary is a diary.  Would you want your girl to read your diary?  Icky, icky song.

I'm tempted to post all of the lyrics, as they're truly insipid, but I'll focus on the part that killed me when I first heard the song.

My heart is bleeding
Papercut from reading, reading

No, I'm not taking those two lines out of context.  They're supposed to go together; a couplet, if you will.   At first, I thought it actually said "papercut from breathing, reading," which is worse, but it's still truly awful.  And as often happens with terrible lyrics, these two lines are repeated several times in the song, as if they're profound and vital enough to emphasize.  Unbelievable.


Why, hello out there! It's been, what, NINE months since I updated? Brief hiatus, my foot.

Anyhow, I'm back. So much has gone on in my life these past nine months, but you know what, I don't think I'll recount it all here and now. Too much to talk about, not enough time. And I'm sure you'll learn about most of it just by reading the blog through references and anecdotes anyhow.

So, what's the plan? Well, I hope to update as much as possible, but the big thing I don't want to do is have a set schedule. My life has gotten so much better in the past nine months, but also much busier and crazier, so my availability can be unpredictable. However, I have a lot to blog about, so there will be more updates than not, I'm sure. Here are some of the blogging projects you will see here:

1. The return of Sucky Lyrics! Started here, continued, well, here, I guess. Don't know how often I'll be posting these, as they actually take a shockingly long time to write and find a picture for, but I have one in mind already... :)

2. chronological order! I'll go into much, MUCH more detail in the first blog post about this, but basically I will be writing about my experience watching LOST for the first time, but chronologically rather than episodically.

3. The 101 Best Sandwiches In NYC Adventure! My uncle introduced me to this list yesterday, and needless to say, I had a vision. What if I could try to eat my way through every sandwich here? Some I may never have the time get to, some are outrageously expensive, but most are doable. This will be complete with pictures.

4. Random blog posts! Recommendations, funny videos, great news stories, crossword recaps, thoughts on life... All will be fair game here.

All right, that's about it. I hope you enjoy this blog, and please, by all means, comment away!