Sunday, October 30, 2011

TV Review: Once Upon A Time

ONCE UPON A TIME - From the inventive minds of "Lost" executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis comes a bold new imagining of the world, where fairy tales and the modern-day are about to collide. "Once Upon a Time" stars Ginnifer Goodwin ("Big Love") as Snow White/Sister Mary Margaret, Jennifer Morrison ("House MD") as Emma Swan, Robert Carlyle ("The Full Monty," "Trainspotting," "SGU Stargate Universe") as Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold, Lana Parrilla as Evil Queen/Regina, Jamie Dornan as Sheriff Graham, Jared Gilmore ("Mad Men") as Henry, Josh Dallas as Prince Charming/John Doe and Raphael Sbarge as Jiminy Cricket/Archie. "Once Upon a Time" was written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, who are also executive producers, along with Steve Pearlman (ABC's "V"). The pilot is directed and executive-produced by Mark Mylod ("Entourage"). "Once Upon a Time" is from ABC Studios. (ABC/JACK ROWAND) GINNIFER GOODWIN, JOSH DALLAS

If there is one crazy show to watch this season, Once Upon A Time is it. I can't pinpoint what it is about this that really pulls you in to watch more and more, but there is something there. I hope it succeeds, because it is so unusual, almost as unusual as Lost, who the executive producers also created.

The cast is stunning with Jennifer Morrison, who most of us know from House, as Snow White/Sister Mary Margaret. With short hair as Mary Margaret, she's really unrecognizable.

I really am interested in seeing how long they can keep this show going. What is the public's interest in fairy tales that try to become part of reality?

Well, it is a Sunday show, so the public doesn't have to be too interested to keep it going, and I would love to see it last more than 6 episodes. The scenery is fantastic, as are the costumes when the show goes into "fairytale land."

If you haven't given this show a shot, I suggest that you do, it is probably one of the most original things on right now.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Album Review: The Bangles - Sweetheart Of The Sun

The Bangles are making a return to the music scene. Their last album Doll Revolution was released in 2003. It has been a long eight years, but once you listen to Sweetheart Of The Sun you’ll know the girls are back and true to their form, albeit less popalicious than they were in the 80s.

What the girls bring to the table is that fantastic girl group 60s sound. This album has a heavy psychedelic sound, very reminiscent of their third album Everything only with songs that are more mature. The vocals are still shared between the three ladies, Michael Steel left the band in 2005, leaving Susannah Hoffs and Vicki and Debbi Peterson to soldier on.
This album is like a trip back to the “Summer of Love,” especially on songs like “Mesmerized.” The guitars are jangling and trippy. The girls harmonize perfectly, which contributes to that old school girl group feel. The album’s opener “Anna Lee (Sweetheart of the Sun)” sounds like it should have been a hit in the mid 60s.
The 60s vibe is there through all the tracks on Sweetheart of the Sun. That might be the one thing that keeps the album from being fantastic. Sure these are some great retro pop songs, but when you think of The Bangles, you think of fun pop music like “Walk Like An Egyptian” or stellar love songs like “Manic Monday” and “Eternal Flame.” There’s nothing of that caliber on Sweetheart, but there are a few songs that make a valiant effort. “Open My Eyes,” is a super fun rocker, which will remind some fans of “In My Room,” from Everything. It was penned by rocker Todd Rundgren. It has the same psychedelic harmonies and trippy guitar.

“Through Your Eyes,” is a George Harrison-esque ballad. It’s Susannah’s shining moment. She’s always done superb ballads, and this one is no different. Debbi handles vocals on “Circles In The Sky.” Her vocals are deep and mellow.

This album marks the band’s 30th anniversary and it is clear that they still have it. Though the kitschy pop songs that scored them many hits in the 80s is definitely not present on Sweetheart Of The Sun, the finely polished pop gems found here will definitely please old and new fans.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Acoustic Goodness

Sunday Girl was my favorite song from Erasure's last CD.  I love all the bleeps and bloops but I was totally surprised at how great it sounds acoustic...

Watch and listen

Monday, October 24, 2011

Musical Mondays: Ashton Sheperd - Where Country Grows

Ashton Sheperd's latest offering Where Country Grows is a "real" country album. Country has been flooded with more pop sounding music lately and Ms. Sheperd doesn't really play that way.

Her songs have that ole "My dog died, my car broke down, and my guy is cheatin' on me." She also sings it with a twang.

The lead single is "Look It Up" a cover, originally done by Jasmine Rae.  Ashton gives some hell to a cheater. The follow up single is the title track. It's a bit slower, but it is a true country anthem, that is great for blasting on sunny days.

Where Country Grows is infused with some humor too. "More Cows Then People," is one of those songs. It has a great fiddle and an infectious melody. How can lyrics like

"Ain't no noise, no red lights

Ain't no buildings messin' up my moonlight
Ain't no doubt, why I live out where there's more cows than people"

not bring a smile to your face?

The token sappy ballad is "I'm Just A Woman." It isn't the best ballad, and it is a trifle depressing, but it does show that Ashton can sing a sad sad song with the best of them. It also makes listeners glad for songs like "Beer On A Boat," which leave you smiling.

Ashton's music is all about fun. This album is 10 songs of good country. It is definitely worth a listen or two.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Awesome Steak In A Crock Recipe

This recipe came from the Fix It And Forget It Entertaining Cookbook.

It is super easy.

I placed 4 frozen steaks in the crock.

Seasoned with salt and pepper

Then put 1 cup of brown sugar and 1 cup of ketchup over it.

Put the crock on high for 3 hours and then low for another 3 hours.

The result was an incredible bbq steak that you didn't even have to cut!

Mmmmm good. I want to try the sauce with country style ribs next

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Movie Review: Inkheart

I bought Inkheart at Five Below several weeks back, because I love Brendan Fraser and I've wanted to see this movie since it came out in 2009.

I had heard bad things about it but I was prepared to enjoy the eye candy and nothing else.

After watching, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised in the film, and I really want to read the trilogy. I've heard the film doesn't do the book justice, but if you've not read Inkheart, then give the movie a go. It really is a nice fantasy piece revolving around a family of book lovers.

Brendan Fraser was a great Mort, who could read characters out of books...we later learn his daughter, Meggie shares the ability...they both are "Silvertongues."

Helen Mirren as Elinor is another fabulous character. She's an obsessive old bookworm.

My favorite character is Dustfinger (Paul Bettany), a character from Inkheart that Mort had read out of the book, who was trying to get back into the book.

I really loved the concept and the filmography was stunning especially towards the end when the darker characters from the book appear. The Shadow is really amazing looking. I also loved how Meg read out Toto from The Wizard Of Oz.

If you haven't read the book and you are looking for a good family film. It deserves far more credit than it received. Oh and Brendan and Paul are really easy on the eyes!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Films On Friday

There's so much buzz going around the new version of Footloose. I can't really understand why. I really think that it show a great lack of creativity in Hollywood.

There are way too many remakes going on both on the big screen and the small screen.

It is really pathetic.

Then there's the possiblity of a Dirty Dancing remake? That somehow seems sacriligious.

Why do people want to mess with things that are so well loved.

Granted, some remakes are good. Father of the Bride was done really well, so was Parent Trap (though not as good as the original)...and I'll even give props to Ocean's Eleven..but the for the most part...remakes are annoying. (Even more so in TV)

What are some of your likes and dislikes about remakes in films? Are there any you'd like to see remade?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Must See TV For The Fall

The new season has started and there are so many new shows to watch, but which ones are worth your time?

Here are a few that this wench is getting really excited about.

Two Broke Girls airs CBS Mondays @ 8:30

From the official site:

2 BROKE GIRLS is a comedy about two young women waitressing at a greasy spoon diner who strike up an unlikely friendship in the hopes of launching a successful business - if only they can raise the cash. Sassy, streetwise Max Black works two jobs just to get by, one of which is waiting tables during the night shift at the retro-hip Williamsburg Diner. Sophisticated Caroline Channing is an uptown trust fund princess who's having a run of bad luck that forces her to reluctantly give waitressing a shot. At first, Max sees Caroline as yet another in a long line of inept servers she must cover for, but she's surprised to find that Caroline has as much substance as she does style. When Caroline discovers Max's knack for baking amazing cupcakes, she sees a lucrative future for them, but first they need to raise the start-up money. While they save their tips, they'll stay at the restaurant, working with Oleg, an overly flirtatious Russian cook; Earl, a 75-year-old kool-kat cashier; and Han Lee, the new, eager-to-please owner of the diner. Working together, these two broke girls living in one expensive city might just find the perfect recipe for their big break. 

Why you should watch?  

Max is so snarky you have to love her. Caroline is not the typical dumb blonde. Believe it or not she breaks out of that mold and is smart. These two girls make for an awesome show and when you add the creepy yet funny Oleg in the show is really great. I hope this one lasts...It is perfect between the two hits How I Met You Mother and Two and a Half Men. (BTW...Ashton sucks!)

Suburgatory airs Wednesdays @ 8:30 on ABC

From the official site:

Single father George Altman is doing his best to raise his sixteen-year-old daughter Tessa in the big city. When he discovers a box of condoms in her bedroom, though, he decides the time has come to move her to a more wholesome and nurturing environment: the suburbs.

But behind the beautiful homes and perfect lawns lurk the Franken-moms, spray tans, nose jobs, and Red Bull-guzzling teens who have nothing in common with Tessa. It’s a whole new world, one that makes George wonder if they haven’t jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.

With the help of suburbanites like old college friend Noah, flirty Alpha mom Dallas and awkward classmate Lisa, George and Tessa slowly learn to navigate the pitfalls of suburban life. With time, they might even find that it isn’t so bad. Once you get past the plastic smell.

Why you should watch:

It is a smart funny family comedy that isn't Disney sweet. It also keeps the sexual innuendo to a minimum, which is pretty hard to do on sitcoms these days. It is a perfect fit for most of ABC's family shows on Wednesday nights. It is a bit more grown up then The Middle but not as cutting edge as Modern Family, but still pretty damn fun to watch.

Unforgettable airs on CBS Tuesday @ 10:00

From the official site :

UNFORGETTABLE stars Poppy Montgomery as Carrie Wells, an enigmatic former police detective with a rare condition that makes her memory so flawless that every place, every conversation, every moment of joy and every heartbreak is forever embedded in her mind. It's not just that she doesn't forget anything - she can't; except for one thing: the details that would help solve her sister's long-ago murder. Carrie has tried to put her past behind her, but she's unexpectedly reunited with her ex-boyfriend and partner, NYPD Detective Al Burns (Dylan Walsh), when she consults on a homicide case. His squad includes Det. Mike Costello (Michael Gaston), Al's right-hand man; Detective Roe Saunders (Kevin Rankin), the junior member of the team; and Detective Nina Inara (Daya Vaidya), a sassy, street-smart cop. Being back on the job after a break feels surprisingly right for Carrie. Despite her conflicted feelings for Al, she decides to permanently join his unit as a detective solving homicides - most notably, the unsolved murder of her sister. All she needs to do is remember. Ed Redlich, John Bellucci, Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly are executive producers for Sony Television Studios in association with CBS Television Studios.

Why you should watch:

This isn't your typical cop/detective drama. Poppy Montgomery rocks as Carrie Wells. It is really hard to pinpoint why this show is so awesome, but it is. Of course anything is better than more rehashed Law and Order.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Musical Mondays: Erasure - Tomorrow's World

There are very few constants in this world. Good Erasure CDs were one of them, until now.

I'm not sure when things started to change for this band, but Erasure were one of those artists that put out quality music even when they were recording potboilers (ie: Erasure)

Maybe it is because 2007's Light At The End Of The World was so good, a return to form, that Tomorrow's World feels like a bit of a let down. I'm not saying that the album is bad, Erasure is really not capable of putting out an album that is unlistenable, but they have put out an album that is totally uninspired.
Every Erasure album has one song that is super catchy and fun. The Erasure ear worm is something that fans look forward to...nay yearn for witch each new CD. The closest we come to that is "Then I Go Twisting."

It is hard to pinpoint what is lacking in this album. Andy is in fine voice, as always. Vince delivers fun bleeps, bloops and other assorted fun sounds that make you want to get up and move. It all feels a bit forced though.

What is notably absent in Tomorrow's World is fun.  Erasure have recorded breakup songs before, but this CD feels SERIOUS, and Erasure isn't a band that does serious.

The album's lead single "When I Start To (Break It All Down)" sounds like a throw back from their self titled CD from 1995. "You've Got To Save Me Right Now," is Erasure doing something close to Motown. It proves that Andy Bell can sing anything that he puts his mind to, but the song just doesn't feel like Erasure. Maybe this is something he couldn't fit on his last solo album?

This album feels totally off. The only song close to feeling like the happy bouncy Erasure that we know and love is the album's opener, "Be With You." If only the rest of the album could have been as fun as that one.

Get back in the studio guys, we know you can do better than this, a whole lot better.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Restaurant Review: Old Mexico Belle Vernon

Foodie Beware!

Old Mexico in Belle Vernon was definitely not ready to open for business. Their staff is incompetent; slow service and not enough staff for a Sunday afternoon.

Word to owners. Belle Vernon is actually a high traffic area on weekends. Expect business!

When I arrived to pick up my fajitas for two at 4:30, the place was about 80 % full, but you couldn't find a member of the wait staff anywhere.

While I was waiting I noticed the following:

1. One large table hadn't received silverware.
2. Several parties left because they weren't going to wait for inept staff.
3. One waitress was handling way too many duties and was frazzled beyond belief

I waited an additional 20 minutes for my fajitas and when I opened the boxes, there were no wraps! What's the point of fajitas when you have no tortillas to put the meat in. I also ordered a combo of steak and chicken and I only got steak.

It is a good thing that the steak was good.

The food was OK, but after having eaten at La Fiesta in Charleroi for many years, this was sub par.

Oh and the restaurant placed coupons in the clipper magazine that they wouldn't honor for takeout, even after I waited over 40 minutes for my food, and there was nothing on the coupon indicating that the coupons were for dine in only.

I've heard good things about the location in Washington PA, but this no location isn't ready for the business it can expect. There are no Mexican or Tex-Mex places in the Mon Valley. If they want to build a customer base, they better learn how to serve the customers there.

It will be a long time before I try Old Mexico again.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Restaurant Review: Little Bamboo

It has been years since I've eaten at Little Bamboo in Belle Vernon, PA. The reasons have never been about the quality of the food served there. Every town in the mon valley has a Chinese restaurant and driving there for lunch on Saturday just doesn't usually work for me. Plus most of the smaller, less fancy places offer dinner specials, Little Bamboo does not.

Little Bamboo is an Asian restaurant specializing in Chinese and Japanese cuisine. Sushi lovers will be happy, because they won't have to travel out of the Valley to get their not-cooked fish fix.

There's a lot to be said about Little Bamboo.

1. The service is always good, even when the place is busy.

2. Of all the restaurants that are sit down/not buffet style, Little Bamboo has the best quality food. It is hands down one of the best Chinese restaurants in the Valley.

3. The steamed dumplings are a must order no matter when you eat there. OMG they are so good!!

4. The chef really knows how to chop veggies. You will never find huge pieces of peppers etc at Bamboo. The veggies are always nicely chopped, except in dishes that demand bigger pieces, such as pepper steak.

5. When they say a dish is spicy, believe them. The Kung Pao chicken at Bamboo is one of the spiciests I've had in ages. This is another must order if you like some heat in your meal.

6. The tea is absolutely fab!

Little Bamboo Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 7, 2011

Films On Friday

The weekend is upon us and TV is a vast wasteland now. So what's a wench to do, except try to find some good movies to watch.

I'm thinking of going for a little bit of fluff.

Here are two titles that I bought on the cheap in the past few months that I never did get around to watching.

I know neither of these films are super great. In fact, I've heard Inkheart really stunk, but Brendan Fraser is such lovely eyecandy that I may be able to overlook the badness of it. As for 27 Dresses, I've not heard anything about it, and I got it for my birthday, because I thought the plot looked cute and well, it was a $5.00 gift from my college age nephew.

So which one should I try? Or what should I rent?

There's no Doctor Who for a long while now, and I need to have some weekend TV viewing that doesn't involve the Disney Channel.

Help a wench out!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs

It is really hard to fathom that one man has changed much of the way the world communicates and is entertained the way Apple founder Steve Jobs has.

Take a look at all the innovative (and expensive) technology that Apple has rolled out since the company started in the late 70s. iPhone iPad.

How many of us have one or more of these devices?

I know I have many pods, though I was slow to convert and I still hate iTunes, but you really can't say anything against the quality of something made by Apple. (You can gripe about the price though)

I find it really amazing that the world has really shown such emotion in regards to this man's passing. He wasn't really a celebrity...he was an innovator and a businessman.

One can only wonder, if Apple will come up with such awesome gadgets now that he's gone.

RIP Steve!

Bloo and Ms Blackie my two iPod shuffles weep for you.