Wednesday, March 25, 2009

TONIGHT ON LOST: THANK YOU FOR THE CHICKEN SALAD, BEN... NOW I KEEL YOU!

So many questions. Is Dharma Initiative LSD as good as the rest of their myriad products? Why are Juliette and Kate being so nice to each other? Where is Oldham's brother Darryl? And his other brother Darryl? And of course the big question, did Sayid just kill 12 year old Ben? What the f*&k? Sure Sayid used to torture people, and he's killed a bunch of dudes, but shooting a kid? Really? It seems a bit much. I mean, sure now we have all the super cool ramifications of Sayid going into the past and killing young Ben which will obviously affect the Losties in the future. But, is it worth turning Sayid and his ridiculously sexy accent into a child murderer? We shall see. My brain hurts just trying to think about what will happen now. Shouldn't there have been some weird Back To The Future-esque photo image dissolving immediate consequences to young Ben dying? Wouldn't they all just disappear? At least Jack, Kate, Sayid and Hurley since they wouldn't be back on the island if it weren't for Ben? Or maybe they would have never left the island if it weren't for Ben? Or maybe they all would have been rescued by the Dharma folks? Or killed by the hostiles? Or vice versa? In true Lost fashion this episode managed to answer one little question (why was Sayid in handcuffs with the lady on the plane?) while introducing a new, big crazy question (WTF is going to happen now?) Good stuff, can't wait 'till next week.

NEW VINE-YL VIDEO: GABOR AND GARNACHA

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NEW VINE-YL POST!

CHEAP-O WINE REVIEW: 2007 MAJUS NERO D'AVOLA


Nero D'Avola is one of the many awesome Italian wines that you may have never heard of but you should definitely try. Hailing from Sicily, these wines tend to be bargains, coming in around the $10 to $20 range. The Ajello Majus Nero D'Avola comes in at around $12. It is a pretty classic example of the wine, with sun-baked red berry fruit and a bit of lava rock-esque minerality. It is of course a great wine to pair with Italian foods, red sauces, pizza, etc. But, my friends and I drank it on its own while playing World of Warcraft and listening to 60's English Folk Music. (Yes, we are dorks, see previous post for a more in depth discussion.) Anyways, a good buy if you can find it, if not give another Nero D'Avola a try. It's a cool recession budget wine that deserves and audience.


-Sara

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

WORLD OF WARCRAFT: EVIL TERRORIST PLOT TO KEEP PEOPLE FROM GETTING ANY WORK DONE? YES.

Sorry I haven't been writing in a while
and have allowed basketball postings to take up much of the site. It's not my fault. A "friend" of mine, who shall remain nameless, convinced me to try out The World Of Warcraft 10 day free trial. "It'll be awesome," he said, "We'll all play together," he coerced. 6 days later I'm completely addicted, though I did manage to not play for an entire day. My "friend" who is now a level 12 mage and rising, knew of my secret love of video games. He knew that I had been known to play games for 10 hours straight. The fact of the matter is, he knew that I was a geek. But, that didn't stop him from introducing me to what could be the end of me ever getting any work done ever again. I've never liked a role playing game before this one. I know I'm late to discover it, but it is pretty friggin' awesome. The fact that you can play at your own pace, that the more you play the cooler stuff you accrue and the fact that there seems to be an infinite amount of play time makes it incredibly addictive. Now, add that to the fact that you can play with your friends and you've got one of the greatest time suckers ever invented. Every time I log in (I'm a warrior by the way, level 9 at the moment) and I play for a while and I think I want to stop, I see a group pass by me on their pink sabertooth tigers, and griffins and mastadons and I say to myself, "don't stop, this too can be you some day, if you just stop doing anything else and concentrate on what really matters, questing and gaining experience points." Yes I know, I said it before and I'll say it again, I am a geek.
-Sara

Sunday, March 22, 2009

MARCH MADNESS 2nd ROUND REVIEW

Round #2 of the NCAA tournament was defined by dramatic potential and predictable results. Grasshopper's old Kung Fu koan proved true: Expect the Unexpected. Everything went just as expected. When it was all said and done, no miracles announced the first two days of Spring. All the major favorites won their games and advanced, with varying degrees of difficulty. But all the tenacious, lovable underdogs went down this year. No Cinderellas in the Sweet Sixteen. No Western Kentucky, no Cleveland State, no return to glory from Michigan, no movie-in-the-making with Siena's starting five. The closest thing to a surprise was underrated, media darling Arizona making the Sweet Sixteen as a #12. Ach-well.

But it was an enjoyable, occasionally thrilling tease. I watched North Carolina beat LSU from Barney's Beanery, a West Hollywood legend where it's impossible to tell the die-hards from TV stars in shades and officially licensed apparel. The game was touch and go for many nervous moments. Honestly, Tarheel fans are plenty used to the constant low grade anxiety of tournament month, and in a way we thrive on it. But you can always tell early when a team looks likes it's about to put you through the ringer: Utah in '98, Weber State in '01, Penn State in '03, Air Force in'04, Villanova in '05, George Mason in '06. LSU looked, for a brief moment, to be that brand of team. But we ground it out with two long runs near the end of each half and pulled away comfortably before it got too scary. Who knows what Gonzaga will bring, who got a scare of their own, winning in the last second by two over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers?
 
Along the way, I discovered a new cure for nerves called Shoot the Root. Claimed to have originated either in Long Beach or Australia (then brought to the LBC by an Aussie barkeep) its your basic boilermaker, with a shot of Root Beer Schnapps dropped into half a pint of lager. It tastes just like a Dr. Pepper and is immediately effervescent, refreshing and relaxing. I recommend one before the game and at halftime. Next weekend awaits, with new peculiar challenges and adventures. A post to follow from Joshua Tree, where we ponder the Sweet Sixteen in balmy, languorous climes...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

MARCH MADNESS 1st ROUND REVIEW


Maybe it was because St. Patrick’s Day was on Tuesday, and everyone in the country spent Wednesday hungover. Or perhaps it was due to the national shock of watching the sitting President of the United States fill out a bracket on a live web feed. But for whatever reason, it seemed that March Madness this year got off to a slower start than in years past. Or maybe it was just that I did, after three years of planting myself in an  outdoor sports bar at 10am on a Thursday morning (one of the decided fringe benefits of having a working writer’s schedule). 

The early games started off with a bang. A confirmed collective gasp went out across the country when the Cal State Northridge Matadors played the Memphis Tigers to a 2 point match late on Thursday morning. The damage to brackets across the country would’ve been nearly impossible to calculate. Luckily, and I say that with all irony, Memphis pulled out the win. And that is the colossal paradox of March Madness, the greatest sporting event in this country, second only to the World Cup internationally. When the impossible seems possible, we should find ourselves cheering wildly. Instead, we accept the easy outcome in advance, then worry that an upset of the status quo will ruin our grand predictions. Truly the only way, in a Zen view of things, to watch the tournament is without a bracket and without a team. But that would be unthinkable.

In reality, to watch the tournament without a team is to watch the world from the perspective of the Dalai Lama, process without attachment. It must be a beautifully serene, joyful experience, but lacking passion. I went to North Carolina, and therefore the tournament is a yearly rite of passage, a time of reckoning and potential, as organic and regular as ancient agriculture. North Carolina had a #1 seed this year and a relatively good draw, so the first round gave me plenty of time to worry over other picks. I have Michigan going far, and they sustained my faith with an win upset win over Clemson. VCU failed to pull the upset everyone predicted, and Western Kentucky pulled the upset everyone considered and picked against. The first day had drama but no shocks. Many of the 7-10 and 8-9 brackets held true to form. There’s almost nothing in the tournament worse than the feeling of rooting for a team you dislike (or hate) because you picked them intellectually, only to watch them lose for you. Such a situation fell to me this morning when Tennessee (my home state, but not MY state university) lost to Oklahoma State. I have Duke making it to the Elite Eight, but if they lose along the way, it's one time I won’t be disappointed.

I took a lot of hits today. When I looked at my bracket ex post facto it seemed to suggest that I picked far more upsets on Day 2 (conjecturally feasible though they might have been) than on Day 1. This upholds a logic I find personally depressing. Despite its reputation for wild finishes and legendary upsets, the NCAA Tournament usually holds true to form. 

But tonight, in the best round of the evening, the impossible—or really just the wonderful—managed to happen. And it proved this is the best weekend of the year. With four games to go and our brackets already disasters, my buddy Finneus and I made a casual side wager on Ohio State-Siena. It was a classic 8-9 match-up. He had Ohio State; I had Siena. For the first twenty minutes I had never seen a sloppier, more hilariously entertaining game of basketball in my life. It was like the Apple Dumplng Game, The Harlem Globetrotters, The Bad News Bears and the Flint Tropics all joined forces and split themselves in two. Layups rolled off the iron, dunks flew backwards, were stuffed back and denied. Jump shots clanked wide and copious passes were stolen. I told Finneus, I want a DVD of this game to watch stoned forever. 

But then it got good. All we were playing for was five dollars and the glory of having a side to cheer on. Our joy spread across the bar, and it seemed everyone had chosen Siena or Ohio State, for no apparent damn reason. The bartender gave us fresh rounds on the house with each dramatic basket, as the game wore on through a tense final 2, to a last minute 3-pointer by Ronald Moore, to OVERTIME… All the while the camera focused on the wheelchair-bound father of Siena star player Kenny Hasbrouck, as Siena missed jumper after jumper… And then another huge 3 by Moore when defeat was all but certain. And then DOUBLE OVERTIME! When it was all over Siena had the victory and a date with Louisville, who will steamroll them so badly they’ll feel like they’ve been sodomized. But tonight they’re victors. Tonight, Ronald Moore is a hometown sensation in Consoshocken, PA. Tonight, Ryan Rossiter, #22, the snow white, gangly, buck-toothed center we called Chess Team, is getting laid. 

And it’s glorious. And it’s the Reason We Watch. So tomorrow I’ll cheer on my Tarheels against LSU and the drama will begin again. But tonight I picked Siena. D’yall hear that? I’m a champion. I picked fucking Siena… 

Friday, March 20, 2009

TONIGHT ON LOST: LET ME A GET A HIT OFF OF THAT DHARMA INITIATIVE ISSUED JOINT, LAFLEUR

I'm sorry I'm late again, but I was so hungover on Wednesday I actually forgot it was Wednesday. Derek reminded me while I was in the middle of catching up on Season 4 Lost from Netflix that I was missing brand new Season 5. Oh well, thank goodness for abc.com. Anyhew, this season tends to have a one on, one off effect on me. I like one and then the next episode, not so much. I mean this episode was interesting and everything, and there were some great reveals (the swan model, meeting Radzinsky and of course meeting Ethan as a baby, who by the way didn't age very well, sun-damage?) but was it just me or was everyone high? Not Sun and Ben and all the folks that oddly ended up in 2007, but all the old Losties that ended up at the Dharma initiative. They seemed oddly calm about everything. Smiley. They didn't ask any questions, they seemed to just accept their fate. Jack just accepted that Sawyer's boss now and that he's sleeping with Juliette. Kate just allowed herself to be led around and seemed a bit serene to be back on the island that she was so desperate to get off of in the first place. Sayid was surprisingly calm while he was captured and imprisoned by his old buddies. Sun was the only one who seemed to be acting natural, knocking Ben over the head with a blunt object and desperately searching for Jin. But, why in the heck did she not end up with everyone else? Where is Daniel Faraday? Is young Ben going to torture Sayid the way Sayid tortured older Ben when the tables were turned? He looked a little creepy. I admit though this episode annoyed me a bit, I cannot wait to find out how the hell they are going to get out of this one.

-Sara

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

3 BOTTLES OF WHISKEY, 2 CASES OF GUINNESS AND A CASE OF SMITHWICK'S LATER...

We here in the VINE-YL household are professionals. We don't take our alcohol related holidays lightly. So when we decided to throw a little Saint Patrick's Day get together we didn't mess around. There was whiskey, stout, an Irish Lamb Stew and all the green foods you could eat. But I may have been a bit optimistic when I thought I would be posting periodically throughout the evening. Drinking and blogging just don't mix. Plus, it is incredibly anti-social to whip out your laptop and start typing in the middle of a party. Hey, at least I got the cupcake recipe up.

-Sara

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

THE BEST ST. PATRICK DAY CUPCAKES EVER!

So this is one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes ever, from Bon Appetit September 2002. I half the recipe to make cupcakes but you don't have to if you want a huge amount of cupcakes. Halving it will give you 24. The frosting recipe came from a fruitful Google search and showed up on several different websites. Without further ado:
Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Mint Buttercream Frosting
Cupcakes-
Ingredients:
2 cups stout
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
4 cups all purpose flour
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Bring stout and butter to simmer in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in large bowl to blend.
Beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Fold batter until completely combined. Pour into cupcake pan using 1/4 cup scoop. Bake for around 20 min. of until a toothpick stuck into center of cake comes out clean.
Icing- (makes enough for 24)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
4 cups sifter powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
green food coloring to preferred green-ness
Beat butter until creamy. Add the rest of the ingredients until combined and smooth. Add more powdered sugar if needed for proper piping consistency
Pipe icing onto cooled cupcakes and enjoy!

HAPPY ST. PADDY'S DAY!

Stay tuned for other special St. Patrick Day postings, including recipes
(chocolate stout cupcakes anyone?) and other drunken ramblings.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

RESTAURANT REVIEW: LUNA PARK

For my money, Luna Park on La Brea at Wilshire, is one of the most pleasant restaurants in L.A. The food is consistently good, with a diverse menu offering a nice selection of California-Nouveau-Bistro food. The appetizers are great, the Poke being our favorite. For entrees the Stuffed Pork, Half-Chicken and Hangar Steak are always satisfying. The cocktails are super good, inventive, creative and tasty. The atmosphere is great and manages at once to feel intimate and convivial. It has a New York crowded bistro feel, without the attitude and poor service. In fact, Luna Park is one of the most well-run restaurants in which I have ever had the pleasure of dining. I know that's a bold statement, but I was just there on a busy, Saturday night at 8pm and we immediately got a table and had wonderful and efficiently served meal. That's unfortunately pretty rare. And I saw some things tonight that I found, as a girl who worked for over a decade in restaurants, thoroughly impressive. It really is one of my favorite spots. They have a location in The Mission in San Francisco as well, I haven't been there, but I'm guessing it's good too. I just have a hunch.

FABIOLA IS FABIOLA-OUS

LACMA is underrated. Yes it is confusing and pedestrian-unfriendly. But, all in all it's a pretty dope museum. There are a few exhibits there at the moment that are definitely worth a visit. One is the "Art of Two Germanys/ Cold War Cultures" exhibit, and while you're there, you really ought to check out the mind-blowing "Francis Alys: Fabiola" which ends March 29th. The "Germanys" exhibit is both fascinating and moving, a beautifully chosen and installed walk through the psyche of a post-war culture that is at once devastated, alienated, cautiously hopeful and literally divided. The "Fabiola" exhibit is just really freakin' cool. A small blue room filled with hundreds of different interpretations of the same subject. It's both surreal and incredibly real. Seeing so many peoples interpretations of the Saint, in the form of paintings, weavings, necklaces and carvings, somehow makes you realize how very similar we all really are. The cost to get into LACMA after 5pm is technically "However much you want to give," so it can be a free thing to do, if you can handle the judging look of the lady in the ticket office. On a day when you have nothing to do, why not take a stroll through the tarpits, grab a beer at the Cafe on the way in and spend an afternoon at the museum? We did it, and we feel pretty darn good about it.

REASON #5347 THAT L.A. IS AWESOME: MASTODONS

La Brea Tarpits, Los Angeles, March 14, 2009 image via me

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A VINE-YL VIDEO FOR ALL OF US CALIFORNIA HIPPIES

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Monday, March 9, 2009

I WATCHED THE WATCHMEN... AND IT WAS AWESOME

There has been a lot of hype about The Watchmen- Legal problems and controversy that caused the release date to be moved back repeatedly, seemingly endless publicity, posters and trailers that popped up everywhere. Just the kind of thing that makes me not want to see a movie. Overkill. I haven't read the graphic novel, though I'd like to, so I really had no reason to want to see this movie. But I did, and I'm glad. It was awesome. I'm not sure why it has received such bad press and mixed reviews. It was beautifully shot and well written, the music was great and the special effects super cool. It was really just a great movie. I don't want to say too much about it, because I think a lot of people haven't seen it yet. If you haven't seen it, you should. I'd hate all the hype to make The Watchmen do worse in the theater than Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Then we'll really be f*&ked.


-Sara

Sunday, March 8, 2009

LOST: LOST IN THE 70'S

Sorry I'm late on this review. I was working all week as a PA and had to get up at 4:30 AM every day. So, when Wednesday came along, I fell asleep before the end of the episode. I know, I know. And, this episode was especially cool for me because I know the guy who plays Horace, Doug Hutchinson. He used to come into the wine store I worked at all the time and he's super nice. He even gave me an autographed picture of Locke! Anyways, great stuff. I was upset they were all stuck in the 70's but then remembered that Jack and Kate and Hurley and everyone ALSO came back in the 70's. I didn't want it to turn into some Benjamin Button type thing where Jack and Kate found an old and wrinkled Julliette and Sawyer hanging out on the porch of their initiative house sipping lemonade. But now of course there is the whole "love square" thing that they will all have to deal with. I like the 70's angle, with the hair and the VW buses, it should make for some interesting action coming up. But, what really did it for me was the scene where they flash and all of a sudden look up to see the back of The Statue in its entirety. The statue that we know as just a foot with only 4 toes we finally saw as what looked like the back of... wait for it... Horus? The Egyptian God? Maybe? Tying in all the Egyptian symbolism, the hieroglyphs from the hatch, the ankh necklace, Horace himself even! Very cool.
-Sara

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

NEW VINE-YL POST!