Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Posts tagged 'reviews'

New pants. And dinner out.

Last night, on the eve of TheBoy’s first day at his new job (which means, yes, today’s his first day), we went out to celebrate. And to shop.

You see, I’ve been after TheBoy to buy a new pair of pants for the last few months. For the most part, we don’t buy new clothes unless we need them (admittedly, I confuse need and want when it comes to boots). Earlier in the year, I bought a couple new pair of jeans because mine were stretched out. And it was time for him to do the same. Not only had his stretched out with normal wear, but he’d resumed his running regimen and eating better- and lost weight. So the pants were way too big. He had to wear a belt to keep them up, and hold them up while he chased after the kidlets. But he refused to buy new pants because they were still intact. (Honey, I’m not posting this to shame you, just to point out that you deserved the new pants because you’re awesome.)

So when he got the new job, we agreed that he’d need new pants before he started. As it turns out, from all that exercise, he’s back in the same size pants he wore when we first met. When he was 18. Go TheBoy!

He also bought a few new button down shirts (the casual kind). While he could get away with wearing his geek tees, he wanted to have something he could wear in case he needed to go out on a call that would seem a little more professional. And I have to say, I love the silhouette of the ones he got. They’re a bit slimmer than what used to be available, and he looks great in them.

We also bought him some new notebooks to take notes in, but bought some that looked a bit more adult and professional than the standard cheap ones.

From there, we went to Set´, our favorite upscale restaurant. Steakhouse fair with a latin twist. We first went there a couple years back, and this was our second trip in the last few months.

We started off with their crabcake, which is served in a lobster cream sauce and topped with a mango salsa. So good, we have to get our own. There’s no way we could split those bad boys. (I would post my pictures, but just go to their site where you can see well lit pics. Mine are dark and weird)

I ordered the braised short ribs, which are so tender they just fall apart the moment you touch it with a fork. It comes with a creamy polenta, and a cabernet reduction sauce. TheBoy ordered their fish special, which was a red snapper served with a risotto and fresh vegetables.

Usually we order a dessert, but we were too full to even attempt it.

Here’s the weird thing about their restaurant- I have cheated and had dairy there, without any sort of reaction like I had the other night. My only guess is that it has to do with the freshness and the quality of the ingredients. But they do work with food allergies (especially since most of their food is prepared fresh), I’ve had friends who mentioned it when they placed their reservation and had a great time out.

The only thing that bothered me this last trip was that the restaurant was pretty empty, and a couple people on the staff were loudly talking to a couple in the bar area. Very loudly. Oh well.

It’s certainly more expensive than our usual places ($9-$12 for appetizers, $19+ for entrees), but I’ve never had a bad meal there.

FAQ: Why don’t I talk about his job? While I’m willing to put myself out there, I don’t want my blogging to affect his career.

This will probably be all I mention about his new job, in fact. He’s working a day shift again, and this job won’t have the same sort of overtime/on call factor that the last one had.

AppSmitten, a review

This is a sponsored post, in that I’m part of an affiliate program and do get a small payment if you sign up for their newsletter. However, all opinions stated are mine and mine alone.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to earn some money by promoting appSmitten- a service that sends app recommendations for your phone/tablet straight to your inbox. So I signed up!

The first email I received had a list of some of the top apps out there- a few that I already use.

But each email since then has had something unique, both in paid and free apps. They evaluate the thousands upon thousands of apps out there, and recommend the ones worth downloading. If you’re looking for new apps to help your productivity and keep you on time, I do recommend giving appSmitten a try!

Sign up for your appSmitten newsletter!

Torchwood : Miracle Day

As River Song would say, “Spoilers.” As in, this post will be full of them if you haven’t seen Torchwood Miracle Day. So… stop now, especially if you haven’t seen the finale.

Last chance, I warn you!

I liked it. The concept was solid, and I enjoyed the more adult yet very much Doctor Who vibe of Torchwood.

The entire series felt a bit bloated. About writing, I’ve been told time and time again that you need to cut things back to the bare bones and then add in moments here and there to keep pacing up. Miracle Day felt as though they just kept adding. Either that or they had a template in place and had a couple episodes added to the order late in the game. Either way, there were a few episodes that felt like fillers with a few important bits thrown in.

Oswald Danes was a problem. Pullman did a great job as a villain, but it felt like the series spent too much time on him- and it was all to give Jack something to do that wasn’t dangerous for the only mortal man on the planet. Instead of viewers wondering what Danes’ motivation was, it was laid out for us early on. Jack met with him and pointed out that Danes simply just wanted to die. Everything involving him (other than that great fight between him and Jilly) lost it’s steam because we had all the answers right away. Though really, his bizarre death speech was so over the top, it was great.

Another problem was the huge amount of time devoted to Jack’s lover, Italian Guy, who really only existed as the vehicle for the Family to get Jack’s blood in the past. And to later serve as the way to get Torchwood headed in the right direction. It just… felt like a huge waste of time. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with a gay love story in a show- I just didn’t believe the chemistry, and it felt like filler.

Nor did I like the instances where the team was separated, but learned the same information simultaneously. I understood separating Gwen from the rest of the team when she went to the camp in Wales to find her father (plot-wise, there needed to be a reason for Vera to go along when she wasn’t in Torchwood. Plus, it gave us more of a global picture of how the procedures were being handled). But was it necessary to have her figure out that they were going to burn the Category 1′s at the precise moment Rex & Co in California found it out? I would argue that it would have been stronger if Gwen had found out earlier, so that we knew what the stakes were when Dr. Juarez was put in the module, and knew all along.

I honestly don’t mind not understanding what the Blessing really was or how it worked. The whole point was understanding that you could reverse it. Though it was explained that it was the giant hole in the earth that somehow emitted the morphic fields that allowed “the Miracle” to take place.

I actually liked Rex, though I could have done with a little less typical American, and a little more of the tough guy struggling with still being alive. No, I don’t mind him being immortal now, too. Considering how the Blessing worked… there was no other logical outcome for him. Besides, it ended the season with a laugh.

I am mad that they killed Esther. I wouldn’t have minded her dying in the first four episodes (mostly because she just couldn’t seem to wrap her head around what clandestine meant), but I really enjoyed seeing her finally get her act together and grow up. I am mad that they killed Vera Juarez, a smart & sexy woman, by making her suddenly unaware that the skeezy man who’d been making misogynistic comments to her might be about to snap. There was nothing about him that didn’t scream “I hate women” in a skin wearing sort of way. To add insult to injury, both of their deaths were less about them and more about motivating Rex to do something. Forget Women in Refrigerators, here we have a Woman in an Oven. (And yes, I do realize it would have been weird for the entire team to survive.)

I know, it sounds like a lot of things I didn’t like. But all in all, there were a lot of things I loved. I fell in love with Gwen immediately. Having not seen her in anything but the brief appearance in Doctor Who, I had no frame of reference for who Gwen was- but I never doubted that she could be badass, yet soft. And funny. You got a sense of how close she and Jack were without having to see all the seasons of Torchwood. I still love Jack, and Barrowman deftly handled Jack becoming fully aware of how mortal he was (much like Matt Smith has done in Doctor Who).

But most of all, I loved the concept. In this day and age where we’re already aware of how finite resources are, where the pitfalls of healthcare have been shown- it felt very timely, and a very accurate reaction by the world to the problem of a population that still became sick, but never died. I liked the reactions of the population, people marking themselves as outcasts, people declaring those still alive as freaks of nature, and people hanging on the word of a child molester simply because he was notorious- based on who we are now, it all seemed extremely plausible. Not to mention that I liked the Family’s motivations of wanting to be able to control the world by toppling the current systems.

Because of the things I enjoyed, I do hope that Torchwood gets another season. The concept was solid, but the execution was hit and miss. It’s entirely possible for a show have multiple episodes with intricate plots, fast pacing and still be filled with lots of heart. Look no further than Doctor Who.

Post-party hangover – no alcohol necessary

Not the literal kind. We had a birthday party on Sunday and I didn’t get much sleep the night before hand, so I was drained yesterday. The boys were wound up as only children with brand new toys can be.

Just in time for Halloween, Kate Beaton of Hark, a Vagrant has her take on Dracula. Hilarious stuff. Dracula was always one of my favorite books and I wish for a movie that accurately captures the story. A play, too. Most do strange things to the plot.

Back to the birthday party- this was for the little guy, and had been delayed a week since last weekend I was laid up with a migraine. When I’d bought ingredients to make gluten-free desserts for the little guy, I was missing one component for my flour mix. And because the little guy usually turns up his nose at anything I’ve baked, we bought a cake for the rest of us and I put a candle in something that I knew he’d love. A bowl of sticky, white rice.

He wasn’t very happy when it came time to blow out the candle- not because of the candle (which used to be the case with his big brother), but because he’d been happily playing in the dirt in the backyard. So while the adults served themselves dessert, we opened up presents and voila! he was a happy child again. He even oooh-ed and aaahh-ed over each gift.

He got some new toy horses, some new Thomas the Tank engine cars, a Hot Wheels set and a Disney’s Cars playset. The real winner seems to be the Hot Wheels track which is all about crashing cars. But we’ve spent (we being the adults) a fair amount of time trying to set it up so they won’t crash right away and testing which cars stay in the longest.

Of the cars we own, the winner is… the Mach 5! From the Speed Racer line of cars. So glad that we wound up with a ton of those, because everyone wanted to put in their own Mach 5 to the race. So, Go Speed Racer Go!

Which reminds me- I have a habit of falling in love with movies that didn’t do all that well in the box office. Like, Speed Racer. No, it isn’t the original cartoon. Yes, it’s bright. But you know what? It is one of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen in awhile- beautiful in a way that just doesn’t apply to most movies.

The Wakowskis wanted to create a movie that seemed like a comic book come to life, and they did! You can practically feel the panels moving right in front of you. Not only that, they fully visualized what a world would be like that revolved around automobile racing- and it’s fun! So if you passed on it when it was in the theaters, try it out! Just have a pair of sunglasses handy- if you’re not prepared, it’s awfully bright. (And if your kids really love it, don’t mention that there was a line of cars- otherwise, you’ll be scouring eBay and Amazon for the cars like I did)


This week, Apple released Ping. It’s a music social network built into iTunes. Given the number of social networks out there, I knew plenty of people who wanted to know if it was even worth signing up for it and giving it a shot.

For those of you, I tried it out, and here are my thoughts.

What the heck is Ping, anyway?

Ping is a social network built into iTunes. You create a profile- show off 10 songs or albums that represent you, and let it show off the reviews you write on iTunes, the purchases you make, or even songs you like. You can follow friends and artists and comment on their updates. The artist profiles seem to integrate their Twitter accounts, but for everyone else- what shows up is based on how you use iTunes and the comments you leave.

Privacy and you

It asks you to use your name, but you can set your profile to three settings- public, private and leave me alone (well, that’s what I dubbed it). Essentially, you can have it so that everyone can see your actions, only those you approve can see your actions… or you can sorta play with Ping, but nobody can follow you.

My Thoughts

Ping seems like it has a lot of potential. But because they’re only concerned with what you do in the iTunes store- purchases, rating, etc… there’s not much to do. I just rated my Scott Pilgrim vs The World soundtrack, but it doesn’t show up on Ping. Unless I go into the iTunes store itself and start making notations there- it won’t show up. (Equally annoying, when you set up your profile, it chooses 10 tracks from those you’ve purchased as representative of your taste. You can set them yourself, but be forewarned, it’ll only let you pick from tracks on iTunes. So as of right now, you can’t show that you’re the #1 Beatles fan)

But it does let you comment on your friend’s profiles- on items they’ve purchased, commenting on their reviews.

However, there is one BIG problem. All you need to do to play around on Bing is have an iTunes account. All you need to get an iTunes account is an email address and password, you don’t even have to click an authorization link. So as of right now? It’s a spammers paradise. On nearly every public artist, there are tons of links for winning free iPads or iPhone 4′s.

If you’re looking for some place to check in now and then and see what your friends are buying, it’s great. If you want to follow along artists (keep in mind, there aren’t a bunch of artist profiles yet), I’d wait. Not just because of the limited selection of artists- but because of the spam issue.

To sum up? Neat idea, but it seems like the execution wasn’t really thought through.

Behind on the times

I just saw The Time Traveler’s Wife on HBO. TheBoy and I had both read it, and were eager to see it- but the reviews were so middling that we decided not to see it in theaters.

One thing we were agreed on was that it was a really difficult book to adapt. The pacing of the book relied on being able to switch between Claire and Henry’s lives, jumping through his life and hers to weave the story. The movie itself chose to follow Henry’s life from start to finish- when the book mostly followed Claire’s chronologically. (If you click to read more, I’m assuming you saw the movie)

Read More…

Lost: The End

I remember ABC promoting JJ Abrams new show. About a plane crash on an island. It seemed like an odd premise, like a dramatic Gilligan’s Island or less scripted Survivor. But I watched it, and was hooked. Never once did my belief in the show falter. I played the ARGs, I watched the shows and mused about where it was all headed. I acknowledged that some seasons weren’t as interesting as the others (sorry Tailies, I really could have cared less about you, except that it meant we got Mr. Eko, Bernard and Libby).

But all through it, there was an interesting story. For all the polar bears, smoke monster and Dharma stations, it was the story about the people. How the Island changed them, and how they grew closer and further apart. They were real people, who reminded me of people that I’ve met in the real world. The snarky guy who uses humor to keep people at arm’s length. The cuddly big buy with the heart of gold. The sneaky weasel who’s in it only for himself. And the eternal optimist, who believes that everything has a meaning.

And I cared. I cried when Boone died on Jack’s makeshift operating table. I cried when Shannon died in Sayid’s arms, and when Charlie drowned in the hopes that it would save Claire. It hurt to see Locke so shaken in his faith in the Island. (Though I admit, I laughed with Nikki and Paolo’s death. I didn’t like them, but temporary paralysis and them being buried alive? That was harsh)

As the final season progressed, I reminded myself not to try to expect answers. The producers were pretty clear about saying that the show wasn’t about the mythology, but that we’d get some answers.

So what did I think? Non-spoiler review: I liked it. Just as the producers had said, the show wasn’t about the mythology at all. It took place on this mysterious island, but it was ultimately about the people. I thought that they found a very smart and yes, sentimental way to conclude the show, and didn’t feel shortchanged in the answer department.

Spoilers behind the cut. Read More…

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