6 Fast 6 Furious

Memorial weekend is the start of the movie and it was going to be a 3 way battle for the opening salvo and Fast & Furious 6 ran away with it, leaving the Hangover 3, and Epic in its dust.  I as well threw in my own $24 taking my mom to see it on Friday evening. The best description that i could ever give was its a perfect Fast and the Furious movie.  I admit i probably drove a little faster on the highway afterwards so I would recommend to go see it, just leave the brain at home before you go.

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The story is a continuation of Fast 5 where at the closing credits you see surveillance pictures of Letty (Michelle Rodriquez) who supposedly died in Fast 4. It plays out like a classic soap opera plot where she doesn’t really die, but gets amnesia and is now rolling with highly technical  criminals not remembering her past. These criminals are racing around Europe stealing parts for a bomb whom Agent Hobbs (The Rock) is trying to capture. Him and his sidekick realize that the two of them (alone, why?) need a team of skilled drivers to capture a well organized military gang of thieves. Because finding drivers is exactly what you need to stop a criminal group with guns who are building a bomb.

Hobbs using the photo of Letty to convince Dominic (Vin Diesel) to pull most of the gang from Fast 5 back together to help him stop in exchange for pardons so they can go back to living in the US again.

Spoilers after the break.


Memorial Weekend Eats

Joy and I are working on getting our kitchen redone, so we’ve cleared out all the cabinets and are in the process of clearing out the fridge so we’re not really setup to do any cooking. We did manage to paint our living room, but other than that we didn’t have any plans, so i’ll just talk about all the places we went to eat at instead.

Saturday

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pie-hole-chicken-cornbread-potpie

For dinner we did a mini tour of east downtown LA, starting off with the Pie Hole. We shared a very tasty Chicken & Cornbread potpie, and a lemon meringue tart. Both were really good, and really made me want to learn how to make a proper pie crust.

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wurstkuche-dog-fries

As we were eating it joy looked acros the street and said we should get a sausage afterwards at Wurstkuche. I’ve tried my share of their exotic sausages and know that i just like the regular ones best so we shared a kielbasa with spicy peppers and sauerkraut, along with an order of fries and buttermilk rance.

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mitsuru-red-bean-cakeFor second dessert we walked down the street to Little Toyko and Mitsuru Cafe. There was a long line but we didn’t have anything better to do so we waited and got ourselves two fresh hot Red Bean cakes. We thought about going to Flying Pig, or the Spice Table for more food, but thought best not to being full already.

Sunday

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For lunch Joy and  i picked up my mom and went to South Coast Plaza to eat at Lawry’s Carvery for some prime rib sandwiches and to do a little shopping. I also got their French onion soup which was very good.

moms-thai-peanut-sauceIn the afternoon i asked my mom to show Joy how to make Thai Peanut Sauce so that we could make it for our friends eventually. I held strong for the most part but at some point the smell of the peanuts got to be overwhelming and i thought my breathe starting to tighten up so i had to go to the backyard to air out for a bit. Stupid Peanuts.

boiling-crab-picnicFor dinner we headed to Pasadena for a boiling crab picnic at Jen & Jeremy’s house. They’ve both never had it before so it was a fun experience to spread out the paper and go at the pound of shrimp, a pound of mussels, and fried catfish.

Monday

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Joy had to work in the morning so for lunch we went to Monora Thai for some Boat Noodle Soup, and Chinese Broccoli & Fried Pork. The main reason we went here was that a new Class 302 opened up next door and we really wanted some shaved snow. Its like a cross between shaved ice and frozen yogurt, topped with a bunch of mango, huge pieces of mochi, and condensed milk (really don’t need that).

lucilles-ribsWe could smell everyone BBQ in the neighborhood when we were home, but didn’t want to fuss about cooking at this point so we did the next best thing and we to Lucille’s BBQ at the Del Amo mall. I guess we weren’t the only ones too lazy to cook because there a bunch of people waiting for their togo orders as well as waiting for a table. We got the full rack of baby back ribs, and tri-tip sandwich just so we could save some for dinner the next day.

 

 

 


League of Chumps Champion

Last Saturday i was planning on attending Jih & Liz’s baby shower with Joy, but what i didn’t realize it was a girls only party, and i don’t think i could have been any happier. The party was at Regional Park in Cerritos and since we were there already together it was the prefect time for Jih and I go out for my celebratory meal at Boiling Crab for winning his Fantasy Basketball League of Chumps league. It was my second year in the league made many moves that should’ve bit me in the ass, but somehow i ended still winning the league and a getting a free meal on Jih.

We got there about 12:30pm and it was the first time i didn’t have to wait to be seated. We ordered a pound of shrimp, oysters, and sausage and scarfed it all down an about an hour and walked out of there with our bellies full. The rest of the day was not pleasant for Joy as the garlicly butter mixture just sticks to your insides and every time you burp its like a gas bomb going off. Joy was not pleased.

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Top 10 Tips for Taking Photos at Disneyland

One of the best and longest lasting souvenirs you’ll take home with you from Disneyland will be the photos you take or buy. There are many places and characters to take photos but you don’t want to spend all day just taking pictures so these tips are to help make the most out of the photos you do bring home.

10. Leave your DSLR at home

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You might love your DSLR with that super expensive lens that can shoot photos in the dark but unless it’ll be your 20th time going to the park, leave the arm canon at home. Stick to your compact camera that you can carry in your pocket, and these are the reasons why:

  • $1000 worth of equipement vs. 60,000 people
  • You’re going to have to take it on the rides with you
  • Not everyone knows how to use a DSLR, and at some point you’ll need to hand it off to somebody else to shoot a photo
  • Do you really have a free hand once considering you’ll be holding onto your kid’s hands, pushing a stroller, snacking on popcorn, or dealing with your wallet
  • Selfies, you know you’ll want to take one
  • It’ll take you a year to go through editing, and sorting through 15mb files

9. Leave it to the Professionals

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You know whats better than not bringing a DSLR, is not bringing a camera at all. Disney offers a service called the Disney PhotoPlus+ Pass which will provide you a digital copy, of all, i mean ALL the photos you’ll need while one vacation at Disneyland and California Adventures. For $99.95 (or $69.95 if you purchase 14 days prior) you can get all your photos taken by a professional with a DSLR camera, get all your ride photos, and have the ability to add Disney characters to your photos for a single price.

Check out TouringPlans.com & allears.net for a more in depth review of the photo pass service.

Be creative, and don’t be afraid to do something silly, and when in doubt ask the Cast Member for advice, they’ve seen them all.

8. Stick with your iPhone

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I’ve taken about 80% of all my pictures at the park with just my iPhone but any Smart Phone for that matter will work too. You wont be the only one either, with the recent report that Disneyland is the most tagged location for instagram users in the US. Most phone camera are starting to rival typical point and shoot megapixel levels its like carrying two of the same device. The best things are the apps that you can you can use to shoot and edit on the fly while sharing it with the world without having to plug it into a computer. These are the essential apps for preloading when going to the park:

  • Camera Awesome – a fuller function picture taking app
  • Snapseed – photo editing app to adjust lighting, cropping and other stuff
  • Frametastic –  photo collage app to combine multiple photos into a single framed image
  • Instagram – photo filters and social sharing app

7. Think twice before you flash the camera

buzz-lightyearRarely does a photo taken with flash at night ever comes out good. Also remember you’re not the only family at the park and getting flashed in the eye when its dark isn’t very courteous. When Cast Members tell you that flash photography is not allowed, its not that they don’t want you to take pictures of the rides, but its very disturbing and distracting to other riders, especially at the Haunted Mansion, and the Pirates of the Caribbean. Flash has a limited distance that it can reach, and unless you have a External Flash, you can really only capture about 5 feet in front of you.

Most cameras have a Firework setting

6. Switch to Video

Sometimes still photos can’t tell the whole story, and you need to switch your camera to video mode to capture everything. I wouldn’t suggest shooting a lot of video because it will take up a lot of memory, editing video is must more time consuming than photos, and you’ll look back at videos a lot less often then flipping through pictures. My basic tips on shooting video to follow are:

  • Know when to switch modes – what you’re looking for when shooting videos is  everything you can’t capture with photos; a build up to a reaction, sounds, lights and movement.
  • Shoot in short bursts (15-30 seconds) rather than one long shot – no one wants to wait to get to the good part
  • Don’t shoot while moving – no one needs a personal Blair Witch Project.
  • Don’t zoom – it takes time for the camera to refocus

5. Know when to put the camera away

indiana-jones-batsThere are a few times where you should resist the urge to pull out your camera and leave it tucked in your pocked. “But i’ll miss a memory”  you say, but what you don’t realize is that enjoying the park in that 3 inch screen instead of with your full vision of your eyes. Disneyland does a very good job of the details, and there are lots of little hidden treasures scattered throughout the park that need your full attention to see.

The second reason is that if you go with a group of people taking pictures, people don’t know what camera to look at and no one will have a good picture if everyone is looking at a different camera. They’re digital cameras people, we can share them in an instant!

My favorite application is the shared photo stream on iPhones. This feature allows you to create an album that will share photos to other iPhone users in an instant. No more having to email or text pictures, they’ll get all of them automatically.

Learn how to set one photo stream share from the Cult of Mac.

4. Pass the Camera Around

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As the photographer you can get pretty caught up capturing every moment of your family’s trip, and that typically means that you’re not in any of the photos. Pas the camera around to the members in your group, because they’ll capture things that you may not notice or pay attention to. Let you kids get pictures from the ground up, and let them get a few pictures pictures of you while they’re at it. Make use of Cast Members walking around the park any time you need a group photo taken.

If you’re getting a group shot taken, preface it by asking them to take a few photos in landcape and portait style

3. Learn the basics to photography

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Two non-physical things to bring with you is your smile, and your skills. First teach your kids how to smile and how to pose in pictures. Not every pictures needs to be everyone standing straight and smiling, so add some funny faces, or poses into your picture. Check out these 10 Rules for Family Photography at Walt Disney World.

The second thing is your camera skills. Being in focus is probably the most important but its not the only thing. It’ll help make your photos more interesting if you learn the basics principals of photography.  You don’t want every photo to look the same, so here are few rules you should get to know:

  • Lighting – the best natural light is early in the morning and the worst is high noon
  • Rule of thirds – don’t put your subject directly in the middle of your shot
  • Balancing elements – make sure you don’t over load one side of your picture with everything
  • Leading lines – where are the elements in the photo drawing your eye to
  • Framing – use external elements to put your subject as the focal point

2. “Be Prepared” – Scar

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The worse thing you can do get to the park, get all setup and realize that you can’t take a picture! Most likely you haven’t used your camera in a while and your memory card may be full or battery meters says its full but if you wait a minute will drop to zero. The night before make sure that you’ve emptied your memory card, charged your battery, and made sure its working correctly. Also don’t forget to bring your phone charger, along with your camera charger because if you’re like me now you’ll be using your phone all day and by mid afternoon it will be dead.

Disneyland is pretty good about hiding their outlets so use this guide to find available  power outlets.

1. A picture with Mickey and Friends

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Ask any Cast member and they’ll tell you that you can always find Mickey Mouse at his house in Toontown. Sometimes the line gets pretty long but you’ll definitely get picture with the head mouse. The rest of the gang are scattered throughout the park:

  • Goofy, Pluto, Minny and Donald also live in Toontown
  • The Princesses have their own Fantasy Faire where you can line up to take meet and take pictures with all the princesses in Fantasyland
  • Pooh, Tigger, and Eeyore hang out in Critter Country
  • On Main St. USA you can bump into the likes of Chip & Dale, and Cruella de Vil, and other classic characters.
  • Storm Troopers like to hang out in Tomorrowland

Other famous photo locations are all over the park, so make sure you plan ahead to which ones you want pictures with.

  • Floral Mickey, a lovely spot just as you enter Disneyland park (when you still look fresh).
  • In front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle
  • Along the river at New Orleans Square at Disneyland park.
  • On the bridge at Disney California Adventure park with Mickey’s Fun Wheel as the backdrop.

My favorite place to get a picture with Mickey is actually much later into the night, you can find him wandering Main St. typically without many people hounding him, and he’ll actually have time to interact with you.


Star Trek Into Darkness at the Grove

nancys-backyard-burger

Friday with no real plans, i talked to Ben online about watching Star Trek into Darkness, and the only place we could find to reserve decent enough seats was the Pacific Theaters at the Grove.  Joy and I headed there early to grab a bite to eat at Nancy Silverton new burger joint Short Order at the Farmers Market.  The food was ok, but the pickles chips were too salty, the potato spuds were huge chunks of fried potatoes (i’m a shoe string kind of guy), and the burger was decent but not making the ranks of my burger list i’m working on.

bluth-companyWe bumped into a promotional appearance of the Arrested Development Stair Car for the series relaunch which i’m sure excited about.

despicable-me2-adAt the theater they had a fun Despicable Me 2 Whack a Minion display with a real hammer to hit them, but too bad it was either too loud, or it didn’t make enough sound when you hit them. Now onto the movie:

Star Trek into Darkness

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Star Trek into Darkness is the second movie of the Star Trek reboot series. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie more than i expected. I guess i had low expectations of the movie, but probably because i don’t really have a strong background in the original series, but enough to know enough to understand the small homages to the original series.

Spoilers from here on out:



Mother’s Day at the Zoo

Joy mentioned that there was a Living Social deal for a San Diego Zoo Safari Park for $22 (50% off) and with Mother’s Day around the corner we bought 4. It was going to be a hot weekend so we picked up my parents at 7:30 in the morning to get there by their opening at 9:00am. By the time we arrived the temperature was into the mid 80°s.

safari-zoo-1When we arrived they told us about Bike Race going on that day that would close the parking lot from 11-12pm and you wouldn’t be allowed to leave during that time. We stood inline to exchange our Living Social tickets, until i read the fine print that we could just walked straight to the gate and have them scan my phone and get in right away.

safari-zoo-3The park was still opening up and we made our way to the Tram ride to get on before it got really hot, and it was a good thing too because the Tram operator made it out to sound like we were lucky to see most of the animals before it got really hot and they went further into the enclosure to seek shade. We got to see plenty of gazelle, the rhino, birds, giraffes and even a cheetah.

My parents told me that I’ve been to the Safari Park back when i was super little so i don’t remember anything about it so it was a fun new experience for me again. I always thought that this was the park where you drove your own car through the exhibits and where animals would come up to your car for a lick, but i guess its been years since that was possible.

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Once the Tram ride was done, we decided to leave the park before the street closures and go to Valley View Casino for a lobster buffet. It was going to get into the 100° and didn’t need to spend the whole day at the zoo since the Tram ride was the most important thing to do. On our way out of the park we did manage to stop by the elephant exhibit and enjoyed the baby elephants running around the bigger ones trying to find shade.

valley-view-2We arrived to Valley View Casino just after the buffet opened and ended up waiting for an hour.  By 12:30pm they cut off the lunch line and only allowed people with a players card reservation in until dinner started at 3:00pm. I knew this would happened and why we left the park so early. We probably ended spending more time eating then at the zoo, but you have to know your priorities. I gorged myself on four plates of food and plenty of dessert to make it worth it. Once we were done eating we each blew $20 on slots and went home.

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Iron Man 3

Friday night Joy really wanted to watch Iron Man 3, and i did my best looking for tickets online.  I wanted avoid standing in really long lines so i checked some of the nicer places where you can reserve seats but most were almost completely sold out. We resigned ourselves to catching it another night and went to watch G.I. Joe instead. When we got to the Rolling Hills AMC there weren’t that many there so we just decided to catch the next showing in 45 minutes.

iron-patriot

Joy really enjoyed the movie but i had some reservation about the storyline. Personally i thought the movie was visually very cool, and interesting enough to keep me entertained, but in the end i don’t feel any need to watch it again. The movie ends up feeling like a 1970’s made for TV movie.  It was pretty action packed from beginning to end (2 hours 10 minutes not counting previews) with not many slow parts for a pee break.

Spoilers from here on out.


2013 Lakers Retrospective

This year’s Lakers team could be summed up in one word. Dream. After being knocked out of the playoffs in 2012 by the Thunder, the Lakers revamped their roster signing free agent Steve Nash, Antawn Jamison, and trading for Dwight Howard for Andrew Bynum. Lakers fanatics were calling this the new Dream Team.

Too bad the only dreams were the imaginative ones that the players had with their game.

  • Kobe dreamed that he was a 20 year old again.
  • Nash dreamed that Kobe would actually let him run the offense.
  • Artest dreamed he could hit a 3 pointer.
  • Pau dreamed about being able to play close to the basket again.
  • Dwight dreamed that his back would’ve healed from offseason back surgery.
  • Antawn dreamed that he would be the leader of an offense bench squad.
  • Mike Brown dreamed that his Princeton Offense would work.
  • Jim Buss dreamed that Mike D’antoni was a better coach than Mike Brown
  • Fans dreamed that their twin towers plus Kobe and Nash running the floor would run away with the Western Conference and into the Finals against the Heat.
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Nash on Nash St. after his signing press conference.

The season got off to a bad start with 0-8 preseason and lose Nash to a broken leg.

mike-brown-firedCoach Brown trying to get his team running.

Five games into the season Mike Brown is fired, and Mike D’antoni is hired.

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Artest and the Lakers at .500 on Christmas

The Lakers season was up and down which led up to a .500 record on their Christmas day game against the Knicks.

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Lakers vs. Clippers February 14, 2013

By the all-star game the Lakers were four games under .500, out of the playoffs while the Clippers were battling for the best record in the league.

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Kobe going down with a torn Achilles tendon just before the playoffs.

Just as the Lakers were climbing up into the playoffs Kobe suffers a major injury that would knock him out for the rest of the season, and most of next season as well.

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The bench leading the team into the playoffs.

The Steves took over the remaining games to get the Lakers amazingly the 7th seed in the playoffs on the very last day of the season.

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The Spurs showing the Lakers that slow and steady wins the race.

The Lakers’ season mercifully came to an end on Sunday with the Spurs sweeping them out in the first round. With it comes questions on what is the team is going to look like next year. How long with Kobe be out? Is Dwight Howard going to resigned? WIll Pau be traded if Dwight comes back? Will Metta World Peace be amnestied? Will Nash return to health? What will the bench look like withf free agents to be Devin Ebanks, Andrew Goudelock, Darius Morris, Robert Sacre, Earl Clark, Antawn Jamison, and Jodie Meeks.