For those of you who don’t know, Frito-Lay came up with a contest to determine the next flavor of Lay’s, similar to what PepsiCo has done with Mountain Dew in the past. The 3 finalist flavors are Chicken and Waffles, Sriracha, and Cheesy Garlic Bread. These chips have been remarkably difficult to find, but I’ve tracked them down. Here is a list of where to buy in Los Angeles, as well as my first impressions of the flavors.
Chicken and Waffles
Available at: Metrofresh at Wilshire and Vermont for $1.49; 7 Eleven at 7040 W. Sunset Blvd
Impressions: For this flavor, the focus is clearly on the syrup of the waffles. I wasn’t able to taste the chicken at all. While they’re trying to go for a sweet and salty combination, the syrup is simply too overwhelming. Sweet and salty is a terrific combination, but get chocolate covered pretzels instead.
Available at: Walgreen’s at Sunset and Vine $1.49
Impressions: The actual flavor sticks closer and truer to its intended flavor. This time, we have a sweet and spicy combination. The chips don’t taste like Original Lay’s dipped in sriracha, but it is a very good approximation of sriracha flavored seasoning. There is also a fair bite to the chips. Those who aren’t accustomed to spicy foods may be caught off guard.
Cheesy Garlic Bread
Available at: Okay, fine, I couldn’t find these.
Impressions: Yeah, really couldn’t find them.
Wow. Why are these so difficult to find? I wasn’t able to find any big bags. I think Sriracha is my favorite flavor. Not too surprising, since I’m a spicy food junkie. It’s probably a good thing I couldn’t find the cheesy garlic bread, because there’s a staggering 28 grams of Fat per bag!
Sometimes you have to go with fast food for one reason or another. You may have a narrow lunch break and this is your only option. You may just want it because eff it, you do what you want. Relax, I’m not one to be judgmental. Here’s a list of some gimmicky new items that various fast food places released along with my brilliant insight on them.
1. Nacho Cheese/Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos
So Taco Bell unleashed a crunchy taco with a Doritos flavored shell. You have the choice of regular, with beef… er “beef,” lettuce, and “cheese,” or supreme with those options and sour cream and tomatoes. Works great in theory – nacho cheese and cool ranch flavored Doritos definitely add to a crunchy Taco. I’ve tried both and… well it’s Taco Bell. What the heck did I expect? What would you expect? Their ground “beef” is simply disgusting. That makes these tacos not worth it at all.
Instead try… if you’re absolutely in love with the idea of eating a taco with a Doritos shell, buy the shell and make your own taco with it. As far as I know, Frito-Lay doesn’t sell the shells to the retail market, but you can probably buy them from your local Taco Bell.
2. McDonald’s new Spicy McChicken
Your average below average chicken sandwich – i.e. McNugget-style chicken. McDonald’s should offer a real spicy chicken.
Instead try… any real spicy chicken sandwich to be honest. Chickfila probably offers the best fast food spicy chicken sandwich.
3. McDonald’s Frozen Strawberry Lemonade
So Mickey D’s is trying to be trendy with their whole McCafé concept. Yeah, you silly charlatans aren’t fooling anybody. I decided to give it a try anyways cause why not and… ugh fml. The strawberry part tasted too clearly like syrup and was disgustingly sweet. I’m getting a sugar headache just thinking about it, and I had it for the first and last time over 2 years ago.
Instead try… okay, come on. There’s none such thing as a good fast food strawberry lemonade, frozen or regular! 51 grams of sugar – yum yum…. oh god why ((?
4. Shanghai Angus Steak/Grilled Peppercorn Shrimp/Samurai Surf n Turf
So Panda Express unleashed two shiny new dishes that are sooooo high quality that each costs $1 extra if you pick that dish. The Samurai Surf n Turf is a combination of the two dishes. The steak is pretty good. They’ve mastered getting the beef tender enough to not be bothersome with its chewiness. Not worth the upcharge though, in my opinion.
The Grilled Peppercorn Shrimp is terrible. The shrimp either is tasteless or bitter. This unfortunate fact makes the Samurai Surf n Turf also not worth it. Sad, really.
Instead try… Broccoli Beef and Beijing Beef are both good and don’t carry upcharges. Honey Walnut Shrimp is exponentially better than Grilled Peppercorn Shrimp.
5. Fishy McBites
No… no… Screw your commercial and your annoying jingle! Not even gonna try it. Also, it’s Mickey D’s, so it’s at best decent.
Instead try… eh, I don’t really know of any good fast food seafood in LA. Perhaps Long John Silver’s or Captain D’s elsewhere?
6. Mountain Dew Baja Blast Freeze at Taco Bell
Wow, just wow. Simply terrible. It’s possible that my local Taco Bell, renown for being terrible even for a Taco Bell, screwed this one up, but then again that’s unlikely. It tastes like crushed ice with very little Baja Blast syrup.
Instead try… the Fruitista Freeze. Both strawberry and mango are downright remarkable in their… Oh wait, Taco Bell idiotically no longer carries Fruitista Freezes. Well, dern. Walk to the nearby 7-Eleven if you want a slurpee.
Run Time: 1 Hour 43 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 22%
Director: James McTeigue (V for Vendetta, Ninja Assassin)
Overview: To say that Hollywood currently lacks originality is an understatement. It almost seems that every single movie that comes out is a remake, sequel, prequel, or adaptation. Writers Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare use a familiar trope to give an account of the final days of Edgar Allan Poe.
Expectations: When I first saw the trailer, I was very excited. The premise of the movie looked very intriguing. I knew that if properly done, this movie could end up as one of the better ones of the year. When first reviews came out, I was shocked to see how overwhelmingly negatively it was received. As the premiere date approached, the rating remained around 20% on Rotten Tomatoes, and I became worried. James McTeigue directing gives me qualms since The Raven marks a second consecutive film under 30% positive on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, critics sometimes go hyper critical. I have enjoyed films in the past that have bombed on the Tomato Meter. Also, I am a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe.
Synopsis: Edgar Allan Poe’s final days are shrouded in mystery. The Raven mixes fact and fiction to give an intriguing account. In this movie, Poe has reached the end of his career. His minor successes as a writer are in his past, and Poe is an unwanted drunkard. After a particularly gruesome murder, Inspector Emmett Fields draws a strong tie to a story he recently read. Brief investigation yields that this murder is similar to a murder in Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” After vetting him, Inspector Fields enlists Poe’s help in catching the killer. The serial killer plays a cat and mouse game with Poe and escalates things by capturing his love interest.
One of the greatest positives of The Raven is John Cusack’s depiction of Poe. Cusack immersed himself into the role and lets the audience see into the mind of the troubled literary genius. His portrayal slightly falters in the drunk scenes. It doesn’t feel congruent with the character of Poe. Brendan Gleeson also gives a good, but underutilized performance as Captain Hamilton, father of Poe’s love interest.
The film stays very faithful to the period. It’s lighting, sets, and costumes combine to create the perfect backdrop of the story. The scene with The Pit and the Pendulum was particularly well executed.
I love the facts that Livingston and Shakespeare weaved into the story. The duo does a respectable job of paying homage to Poe. The Raven makes numerous references to Poe’s works, both overtly and subtly. The writers also weave known facts about Poe’s life and final days.
Unfortunately this terrific concept was not executed very well. One very disappointing thing is Alice Eve’s acting. She is bland in a lot of scenes, but Kristen Stewart-esque in one in particular. The lack of facial expression in this scene erases the horror significantly.
The pacing typical of the serial killer trope was not executed in this film. Breaks in the tension did not lead to surprises, causing it to feel inconsistent.
Another inconsistency is the tone of the movie. It seems The Raven does not know whether or not to take itself seriously. A lot of the film is over the top and unrealistic, almost getting silly. This contrasts poorly with other elements.
By far the biggest disappointment was the ending. It transcended believability, logic, and even common sense. The ultimate villain was not convincing and seemed to similarly struggle with logic and common sense. Livingston and Shakespeare could have done a much better job incorporating Poe’s late life into the story.
Verdict: It’s not bad, it really isn’t. I was perhaps helped by the fact that I am a big Edgar Allan Poe fan. The issues would be minor, were it not for the terrible ending. But it was still a better ending than the one for Mass Effect 3.
Sometimes there are certain things that are so horrendous that they warrant a revival of a blog that hasn’t been touched for a long time. This was one of those circumstances. Do not fly United Airlines.
The baggage fee sucks and…
I was forced to check my carry-on bag that was only 2 inches taller than their maximum height. This bag was accepted as a carry-on by multiple airlines at multiple airports. It is total garbage that something that was just barely over their limit. I barely had the money to pay the checked bag fee.
Airplane seats already aren’t roomy
The seats on the airplane are small and cramped as is. On United, they are even worse. I have never had such little elbow room in my life. My natural posture caused my elbows to encroach on the space of the other passengers. Other people that I rode with noticed this also.
At least they have peanuts/pretzels?
Nope and nope. The complimentary snacks that seem to be the most basic offering of any airline are conspicuously absent. Any snacks must be bought for insane mark-ups.
Flight delays galore
Never seen so many in my life. They are common with airline travel, but not this common.
Airline travel sucks as it is. Some though provide a slightly more pleasant experience than others. Fly Southwest or Jet Blue. You will not save money by flying United – after all, hospital bills for aneurysms are pretty expensive.
Nahm San: Korean BBQ
3333 S. Hoover Street #E
Los Angeles, CA 90007
Prices range from ~$7 to $12. Prices feel perfectly proportional to what you are getting. Non-fountain drinks all cost $1.50. Fountain drinks are around that price but do not come with free refills and are fairly small.
There’s beef, chicken, pork, squid, and a vegetarian option. There are also soups available. Nahm San offers all of the favorites that can be expected at a Korean BBQ place. Most dishes come with the choice of kim chi or a salad.
The food is always cooked to order on a flat top grill. Ingredients are pretty fresh and always of expected quality. Portion sizes and quality are pretty consistent from order to order. One source of disappointment is the amount of oil that is used in the food.
Portion Size: 3.5/5
Portions for all of the items are enough to satisfy any appetite. The only issue that I have is their proportioning. For dishes such as the beef bulgogi or barbecue chicken, there is a disproportionate amount of rice in relation to the meat. The beef rib, the most expensive item on the menu, is best shared. The portion is easily large enough for 2-3 meals.
This is located in the UV. I’ve never noticed anything disconcerting about their kitchen conditions.
I’ve never had significant issues with the service here. The workers are usually polite. The cooks have worked there for a long time and are always able to prepare your meal in a timely fashion, even during the busiest hours.
It’s the food court at the UV.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
While eating at a food court can never equal the experience of eating at a restaurant, when speaking strictly about the quality of food, Nahm San will not disappoint. Few restaurants at the UV make their hours clear, but Nahm San seems to be open later than other places. It is a little more costly than other places, but this place is worth checking out if you want local Korean BBQ.
6613 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028
Prices: Disproportionate to what you receive
The first thing you’ll notice on the menu is that all entree items are a la carte. This is not a problem if it weren’t for the prices. At around $10, entrees here without sides cost as much as entrees with sides at comparable restaurants. Side items are mostly unreasonably priced, starting at $2 for Classic Cole Slaw or Fire Slaw, going up to $4 for Sweet Potato Fries.
The variety proves to be one of their greatest strengths. There are many different burgers to choose from, along with barbecue items, salads, and pizzas. Appetizers include various bar foods. The beer and wine menu is very extensive. There are vegetarian options that will not leave the vegetarian feeling cheated.
I could not have been more disappointed with my meal. While I may have been naive to think I can find a good BBQ pulled pork sandwich out West, this place still heavily advertises the item and claims it as one of their specialties. Their claim that the pork is “smoked daily with pecan wood chips for five hours!” is most certainly a lie. The sandwich came out pretty cold. The pork was both tasteless and watery. The slaw was overly simplistic and unimpressive.
Portion Size: 2.5/5
The sandwich was a decent size, but the fries were simply unacceptable. It is simply egregious that it costs $3.50 for a portion of fries that costs $1 at McDonald’s.
This was exemplary. The floor, tables, and bathroom all were spotless. The menu did not have any food residue and was not sticky.
While the service was mostly good, the server gave the check to me before I was even half way done with my meal. This is simply unacceptable without saying something along the lines of “I’m placing this here for your convenience. There is no rush.” Even then, there is no way of feeling not rushed when this happens.
The location and design made this a pretty trendy place. The interior was low key and laid back while still looking classy. The lighting matched the design perfectly to give it a nice ambience.
Overall Rating: 2/5
Unlike the other restaurants that I reviewed, this was my first (and likely final) visit. The service wasn’t that deplorable, but it combined with all the other negative elements to give a bad experience. If you find yourself dining here, stick with the burgers or try the pizza. You will be bitterly disappointed if you eat their sorry excuse for barbecue.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
Run Time: 2 Hours 10 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 97%
Overview: It is hard to believe that this series is coming to a close. 10 years after Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone premiered in theaters, the series wraps up with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. All of the main cast reprise their roles, with the exception of the late Richard Harris (Dumbledore in the first 2 movies). David Yates (director of the previous 3 movies) returns to direct the final film.
Expectations: It is difficult to evaluate the Harry Potter films fairly. The films cannot reasonably include all of the information from the books. It also cannot retell the information given by the previous entries. In evaluating the movies, it’s fair to ignore traditionally important elements of a good film. It is fair to not look for character development and exposition in movies like this. In the end, the studio seems to have aimed the movies at those who have read the book, and that’s the context in which this movie should be evaluated. The movie returns almost all of the cast and crew seen in previous movies, who have all matured and really became their roles. Nothing can beat the books, but the previous movies have all been pretty good. With the exposition and rising action taken care of by the previous movie, this movie should please viscerally and give a fitting conclusion to this series.
Synopsis: Picking up from where the previous movie left off, Voldemort has just taken the Elder Wand from Dumbledore’s grave. Now that Voldemort is even more powerful, Harry must race to find and destroy the remaining horcruxes before Voldemort finds him. This finale takes him to the impenetrable vaults of Gringotts and back to Hogwarts, culminating to an ultimate showdown with Voldemort.
One major advantage that this movie had from the beginning is its strong source material. It was important for this movie to not leave out any important plot points or details. Minor plot points are changed in this movie, as they were in the previous movies, but that is not overly bothersome. For the most part, this movie stayed very faithful to its source material.
A seasoned cast thrives under the direction of David Yates for another movie. While initially average, the Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson have grown into their parts. Ralph Finnes is a sinister and malevolent Voldemort. Alan Rickman perfectly plays the part of Snape, able to show the complexity of the character after being an antagonist for the bulk of the series.
The visuals were as dazzling as expected given the technology available today. Spells conjured by the characters were vibrant and reasonably realistic. The visuals were also limited to maximize effect. The battles always lasted enough to dazzle and excite but never to the point of causing me to lose interest.
Even though this book was split into two movies, parts of it still felt somewhat rushed. The quest for and ultimate destruction of Hufflepuff’s Cup almost felt like a throwaway plot point, with the movie not even explaining that the cup belonged to Hufflepuff. Snape’s past, as shown in the pensive, is a fairly important plot point. The scenes of his past were rushed and flashed by far too quickly. Although this movie was intended for those who have read the book, it should have reasonably been understandable by those who have only seen the movies. The epilogue could have been slightly longer. This was the shortest film in the franchise and could have been longer without sacrificing quality.
The scene where Harry leaves for the forest to surrender to Voldemort felt awkward. While Hermione was visibly distraught and gave him a good bye worthy of a best friend, Ron shared an awkward glance with Harry. This may be a reference to the last scene of Chamber of Secrets, but it is illogical, given the fact that they have aged. Ron and Harry are guys, and it is not a societal norm for guys to be emotional with each other, but it is hard to imagine best friends who have grown up with each other to only share an awkward glance when one faces eminent death.
Verdict: With the strong source material, the entire cast from the franchise, and the director of the previous 3 movies, it would have been quite the accomplishment if this movie were anything but good. The movie does not fail to live up to the expectations. The minor issues do not take away from a thrilling and fitting conclusion to a terrific franchise.