Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Yesterday I got my lunch at Zippy's Giant Burgers.  I had been looking online for good burger joints in the area, and Zippy's kept showing up, so I decided I had to give them a try.  Conveniently located in White Center (convenient if you live in West Seattle or Burien, convenient for me yesterday because I was going to Alki anyway), they use fresh ingredients and grind the chuck on site, they don't buy pre-made frozen patties. 

I was pretty hungry when I got there and went all out and got myself the Last Gasp burger.  The last gasp contains pretty much everything you could want on a burger.  Starting with a quarter pound patty and the pre-requisite special sauce and veggies (lettuce, tomato, and pickle), they proceed to top it with a hot link, fried egg, bacon, and American cheese.  On a tangent, is American cheese the worst thing that this great nation has bestowed it's name upon?  I think so.  It's terrible, and I would be happy if it went out of production.  When I was in Denmark several years ago, they referred to it as 'plastic toast'.  Anyway, back to the burger - obviously it would have been better with some cheddar, pepper jack, havarti, smokey gouda, pretty much anything other than American - but was still a decent burger.  I found the hot link a little overpowering though.  It drowned out some of the other flavors a bit.  I also feel that the quality of bun could have been improved.  They use pretty much a standard sesame seed bun like you'd get at McDonalds or in an 8 pack at your local Supermarket.  I think that the bun is one of the most overlooked parts of a gourmet burger, and that if they switched to a toasted brioche bun or kaiser roll, that would significantly improve the flavor of the burger and ultimately the cachet of the restaurant. Ultimately, though, it was a pretty tasty burger.

In addition to the burger, I got some onion rings.  I'm please to say that they make battered onion rings rather than breaded rings.  If you're not a connoisseur of onion rings, believe me when I tell you that it makes all the difference in the world.  Battered rings are much crispier and have a richer flavor, and are just better in every way.  Zippy's gets the thumbs up from me for their onion rings, however they are still not as good as the best onion rings I've ever had which were at Crazy Eric's.  If you ever find yourself in Bremerton or the Puyallup Fair and in need of some cheap, greasy, delicious food, then Crazy Eric's is the place for you. But that's a review for another day.

I'm headed back to Alki next Monday and am planning on swinging by to try another burger that I am pretty curious about on the menu:  the Maui Wowie.  With spam, pineapple, teriyaki mayo, and swiss cheese, it could either be delicious or terrible.  I'm hoping for delicious, but either way it is at least pretty unique. So let me close by saying that Zippy's does have some good tasting food.  They are very reasonably priced in comparison with some other gourmet burgers in the area, but the burgers aren't as giant as you would expect based on the name.  Except for the King Lou Lou which has 4 quarter pound patties, 4 slices of cheese, 8 strips of bacon, and sauteed onions. That one sounds pretty giant.  I'd have to be pretty hungry to attempt to tackle that bad boy. Oh, and one last thing, they don't have any drinks on tap.  Only bottles of root beer and various other sodas, beer, and milk shakes. I didn't try a milk shake so I don't know how they taste, but I did find it odd that they didn't have any fountain drinks. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Starbucks Refreshers

Starbucks recently provided me with a free Refresher beverage, so I feel I owe them a review.  The Refresher beverages are iced drinks made from green coffee extract and flavored with fruits.  I tried the very berry hibiscus flavor and am happy to report that it was quite tasty.  I've never tried green coffee extract before, so I didn't really know what to expect, but to me it tasted a lot like green tea flavored with fruit juice.  There was no coffee taste at all which, for a coffee lover like me, is a little disappointing, but may please the non-coffee crowd.  And if I find myself in the mood for something a bit different, it fits the bill.  It is refreshing, as advertised.  It does contain caffeine, however I don't know how much in comparison to and espresso drink or tea.  I would say it's comparable to a lemonade iced tea, or Arnold Palmer if you will, so if you like those, you'll probably like the refresher.  And since it hasn't been named after anyone yet, I believe I'll start calling it a Carson Palmer. 

And while I'm on the topic of Starbucks, I'd like to propose a question: why do I get served drinks with the hole in the lid lined up with the seam in the cup?  If I don't notice this before I start drinking, it's likely to result in coffee dripping on my shirt.  So I'm wondering, do baristas not pay any attention to the lid orientation and put it on randomly, or is this a way for baristas who think I'm a jerk to get a little payback?  I would think the former since I'm pretty affable, however with all of the attention to detail that Starbucks is known for, it makes me wonder if it's the latter. 

The Dark Knight Rises

I braved the torrential downpour today to catch the opening day showing of The Dark Knight Rises.  I got there nice and early to ensure I didn't have to sit in the front or on an aisle, and despite the fact that I only got there about 25 minutes prior to showtime - later than initially planned - there were only 2 people in the theater when I arrived.  To my surprise, the theater was less than half full when the show started.  Starting with the trailers, Argo looked interesting. Oz looks kind of bad, it has a strong Tim Burton vibe (not a good thing) but I didn't see his name in the credits.  I'm growing weary of superhero reboots, so I don't have much interest in Man of Steel. I also have a hard time getting interested in the Total Recall remake, particularly since the best part of the original - Arnold Schwartzenegger - is missing.  Also, there's something about Colin Ferrell that makes me want to punch him in the face.  On the other hand, if someone brainwashed me and convinced me that Kate Beckinsale was my wife, I'd be pretty happy about that.  Moving on, The Bourne Legacy seems to me like another cash grab sequel that will be mediocre at best. Finally, Jack Reacher is another Tom Cruise action movie that didn't seem to have much plot, at least not in the preview.  That's all of the previews I can remember, and overall there isn't much to get excited about. 

On to the feature: The Dark Knight Rises started out with an action scene which almost had me rolling my eyes.  I was a little concerned that there would be copious amounts of unrealistic action, but other than Hines Ward returning a kickoff for a touchdown in a later scene, it wasn't too bad the rest of the way. I mean, seriously, I don't think I've ever seen Ward return a kick.  But at least they used a professional football player rather than an actor. 

As you may already know, Bane is the villain in this flick, and since a hero is only as good as the villain, I was pleased to see that Christopher Nolan went to great lengths to turn him into a truly frightening sociopath.  No longer is he the hulking meat head he was in Batman & Robin (starring George Clooney), he is now intelligent and purposeful. I don't know if it was intentional, but his mask and raspy, labored voice made him somewhat reminiscent of Darth Vader.  Feel free to refer to him as Darth Bane if you like.  What I found really interesting about Bane and his followers, is that all their speeches and grandstanding sounded exactly like the Occupy Wall Street movement.  'The rich fat cats have been oppressing us for too long', and 'we're going to take back what's rightfully ours' and so on.  They continually fan the flames of class warfare to return Gotham city to the violent state it was in prior to Batman cleaning it up in the first film.  I'm not familiar with the comics, so I'm not sure if it's faithful to the source material, or if the film makers are trying to make a political statement, or if they are simply trying to be timely, but it was as if they watched news footage of the Occupy movement and added it to the script word for word.  Make no mistake, though, Bane was a worthy villain: powerful, ruthless, hateful, and if that weren't enough - kicked out of the League of Shadows for being too sociopathic. 

Catwoman is an interesting character as well. She retains the skin tight costumes from previous iterations (which Anne Hathaway looks great in by the way), but we no longer have to put up with any purring or ridiculous one liners.  She's a real character, rather than a caricature, and she keeps you guessing until the end whether she will turn into a hero or a villain.  Michael Caine, however really stole the show as Alfred.  He has a relatively small part in this film, but his scenes are highly emotionally charged and he truly left me in awe.  Some of the other emotional scenes border on sappy, but Michael Caine really nails it.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt also shines as John Blake, a young cop who is unusually perceptive and aids both Commissioner Gordon and Batman.  I think we'll see a lot more from him in the future. 

I can't say enough about how impressed I am with Christopher Nolan as a film maker.  Like the previous two installments, he takes source material that is steeped in fantasy and finds a way to make it realistic.  None of the characters have super powers or behave in unbelievable ways.  That, to me is what makes villains truly terrifying.  Vampires and zombies don't frighten me at all, but a brilliant serial killer like Hannibal Lechter or a violent and charismatic man like Bane who is able to recruit followers to his cause of creating anarchy is plausible enough to make me wary.  More importantly, Nolan is a brilliant story teller who is able to weave a tale in such a way that it's difficult to see what is coming without having to resort to crazy plot twists at the end like M Night Shayamalan.  The Dark Knight Rises keeps you engaged from beginning to end and at no time does the 2 hours and 45 minutes seem long or drag in any way.  I went into the movie with high expectations and it didn't let me down in any way.  In my opinion, this surpasses the Dark Knight, but I think I still prefer Batman Begins.  This film left me wanting more, unfortunately the only additional material I will ever see is bonus material on the DVD, which I now can't wait to purchase.

Saturday, July 07, 2012


For the last couple of months I've been cultivating a pretty solid disheveled look.  I haven't shaved or gotten a hair cut, and to be completely honest, I really enjoyed looking like a mountain man coming back to civilization after a couple months of beaver trapping out in the wilderness.  I've learned something about bearding, though - eventually you stop looking stylish and look like a slob.  I passed that threshold weeks ago.
This is the extent of my Grizzly Adams look before I finally had enough and had to shave it off.  I'll let you in on a secret - by this point it is itchy as hell and quite annoying.  I don't know if you eventually break through and it gets better, but if not, I don't know how guys make it to the ZZ Top stage.

My first attempt at a new look was what I call the Irish immigrant look.  I have some Irish blood in me, and could pull this off.  I could see myself in a smoky bar, standing toe to toe with Tom Cruise in Far And Away, and I would fit right it.

Here's another view for your enjoyment.  And though I look quite grand, it's still too long and irritating and I have to go shorter.

The next logical step, obviously, is the fu manchu.  This is really classy.  Too classy I think, so ultimately I went with no facial hair at all.  So, though I don't look as good, it is kind of a relief to be hairless and I feel much more comfortable.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

There's An App For That

Twice today I've looked at something and thought, "what is that?" And so it is that I stumbled upon an idea for a great smartphone app. I call it What The Hell Is That? Anytime you see something you don't recognize, you take a photo of it and the analyses the photo and tells you what the hell it is. Everybody could use this. Any developer would make millions selling it. And being the generous soul I am, I'm not even asking for a cut of said millions for this idea. I'm giving it away virtually free. All I want in return is a free copy when it's completed. I will also accept a trip to Bora Bora if one is offered, however that is not on my list of demands.

This has been another million dollar idea brought to you by the brilliant and innovative minds at Craw Fu Industries. We make the world better. ©

Monday, July 02, 2012

Running Mates

I was just reading this article (while listening to this song if it helps put you in the right mood) about Mitt Romney's potential running mates, and all I can think is: why are the president and vice president a package deal?  Why do we get to vote on every publicly held office except the vice president?  Is it because the VP doesn't really do anything and has no real power, or is it because nobody cares who the VP is, or is it something else?  As far as I know, there's no political advantage to having a running mate, only a potential liability (see Sarah Palin).  I've never heard of anyone voting for or against a president based on his running mate.  I have yet to hear, "I wasn't sold on Obama until he brought on that Biden fellow."  Of the many idiosyncracies in the American political system, this one possibly makes the least sense to me (although admittedly I don't see the point of the electoral college either).

It wasn't always this way.  Originally, the second place candidate in the presidential election would become the vice president.  I'm not suggesting we return to that, but I'm sure the majority of Americans would prefer to have vice president McCain in place of vice president Biden.  Who am I kidding, nobody cares.  Certainly there are down sides to this, foremost among them that it would encourage crackpots (of which we have an ever increasing number) to become assassins if their candidate lost the election.  Anyway, this all changed in 1804 with the ratification of the 12th amendment, though it's unclear whether the intent was to devolve into our current system. 

What I'm suggesting is a separately elected vice president, if for no other reason than I think Americans should be able to choose their own leaders.  It will also return some of the prestige to the position that has been lost over the years.  Currently, the VP is just a glorified cabinet member.  Directly electing a VP would increase representation by adding someone to the White House staff who was not appointed by the president and therefore not in political lock step.  Obviously, if a VP from the opposition party were elected, it would potentially be too difficult to work together - the situation that led to the 12th amendment in the first place.  So I think that the VP should be elected from the same party as the president.  This just makes too much sense not to be implemented.  It should be the 28th amendment, or Crawford amendment if you will.  And you will, if I have anything to say about it.