Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Day After

Bug and I are suffering from post Air Show sunburns, having been out in the sun sitting on a cement air strip for 8 hours straight without sunblock, despite hourly chimes of going to the DrugMart tent to get sunblock and to reapply them every couple of hours.

The announcer's segues from information on the jets to sponsor advertisements always made me laugh. It reminded me of watching University of Hawaii baseball games on tv.

Please look to your left where the Hornet will be doing an 8 point hesitation roll at center point ... where he'll land at Cleveland International Airport. What a beautiful day it is for an air show (it honestly was - there was not a cloud in the sky...just BLUE) make sure you put on sun block every two hours because it disappears, so don't forget to visit the Discount DrugMart tent where they "save you the runaround, you'll find everything you need."

On a similar vein, I thought the US Army's Golden Knights motto was a little cheesy, but I probably would have done exactly the same with "may your (k)nights be golden." We saw the Black Team. It was pretty awesome and must be a great recruitment tool. I wanted to be up there!

Oh, another thing I learned at the air show was that jet "dedications" means cover your ears because they're going to kick that afterburner right in front of you in about 3 seconds.

My eyes won't stop tearing and they're almost swollen shut. There's a slight discomfort on my left forearm and the top of my left thigh, and my face feels tight. Not a big loss since I don't smile anyway. The burns that I have aren't traumatic compared to Bug's since I'm brown, so I didn't get zinged quite as badly as him. He keeps waking up every few hours from the constant pain. He's pretty miserable.


- Cassaendra

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bier Maidens and Blue Angels

This weekend has been a rather busy one, and it's only Saturday of a 3-day Labor Day weekend. I have a feeling with all the excitement, we're probably going to be hermits Sunday and Monday.

Held at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds, where almost everything was out in the open I felt apprehensive about going when I saw the sky turn green and the clouds converge atop the fairgrounds pretty quickly.

When we paid our $8/person admission, there was a deluge of rain beating down on us. It hurt for me to open my eyes and the place flooded up within minutes. We were completely soaked and didn't really know where to go - it's hard when you're walking around in torrential raid with your eyes closed! My feet were slipping out of my leather slip-on shoes and filling with mud.

We finally found some shelter. Great. Only beer and polka. We wait a few minutes and returned to the rain which was only pouring half as hard and went the wrong way (the way we came from) in search of food, turned around, and then headed to some individual tents serving mostly German food and 1 Polish stand.

By the time we got our food, the rain had stopped. We walked over to some benches under a tent, but the music was just waaaaay too shrill and loud so I told Bug, "NO WAY AM I SITTING IN THIS TENT TO EAT OUR FOOD!!" He responded, "WHAT?!" I walked out with my potato pancakes. He followed.

We went back to the biergarten gobbled up our food from Der Braumeister. I got the spaetzle with Hungarian goulash. The goulash was peppery and I enjoyed the large clumps of spaetzle. Bug didn't care for it as much. He prefers Das Schnitzelhaus' goulash and spaetzle. Bug ordered sauerkraut, sausage, applesauce, and German potato salad. We split an order of potato pancakes. It was pretty tasty. I tend to forget that potato pancakes aren't always the same as latke. When I order a potato pancake and get a...potato pancake - a smooth battered pancake - I let out a half-second disappointed sigh in my head...then partake. I didn't care much for Bug's dish at all. Bug didn't say anything either.

We walked around for 10 minutes after our meal and drove home. It was nice to have finally gone to one here in Cleveland, where there is a sizable German and Polish population. I can't say I was very impressed. The Oktoberfest that I went to in Hawaii was 100x better. While it didn't have the rowdy attitude because it was held at the Ala Moana Hotel, it was just as jovial and served harder drinks like schnapps as well as imported German beers. The food in Hawaii was a lot more expensive, but you got more than your usual carnival food. This was where I tried and fell in love with schweinknuckeln. It was heavenly! I just hope that the Oktoberfest is still celebrated in such a grand fashion to catch it once again.

Cleveland National Air Show
Bug set the alarm clock for 7:30 so I'd wake up in time for us to head to the air show at opening (9:00). I got hungry at 8:45 and made myself a bowl of ramen after hearing that food could cost upwards of $6 for hot dogs and water for $3. We ended up at the gates at 9:45 both of us carrying in bottles of water. I never said I wasn't cheap.

We didn't park at Burke Lakefront Airport because we'd never gone there before and just hit the first garage that said they had parking. We were parked about 1/2 mile away from the venue. That wasn't the bad part.

Bug paid $21/person for us to get in, plus we paid $10 to park, and walked into the admitting area, but were stuck behind a couple who took forever (not sure why). So a kid to the left of us ripped our tickets in half. When we got to the guy who was to have ripped our tickets, he asked why were giving him half torn tickets. We looked at the kid who said nothing. My husband points to the kid and told the guy that he ripped the tickets. The kid said nothing but smiled.

The guy continued to harass Bug about the half torn ticket. The kid continued to say nothing. Finally, a lady behind the kid said, "Yes, they just got their ticket torn." The guy finally asked if we wanted our hands stamped to gain re-entry. The kid stood there and smiled with the stamper in his hand.

That kid must have been retarded or something. I wanted to kick him in the frigging throat. Bug was |--| close to blowing up. $42 paid + parking to not even get in? Yeah, that would have gotten really ugly.

So with that behind us, but with Bug stewing over that incident for 2 hours, we walked in and out of a C-5 Galaxy, saw the MetroHealth LifeFlight helicopters, saw some other planes and helicopters, then sat down on the cement and waited for the show. I was nursing a blister forming on my foot because I was wearing the same wet leather slip-ons.

Programs were sold everywhere. There wasn't a free schedule to be found, so we really didn't know what to expect. My expectation was blocks of shows followed by gaps of free time. Bug's expectation was a block of shows that would repeat throughout the day, but different shows over each day.

At 10:00, there was a competition of radio controlled monoplanes, jets, and biplanes. It was pretty amazing how big, the complexity of maneuvers, and how high they could fly.

The show was like a race downhill on ice after show after another quickly followed until 15:30 where there was a 15 minute break. Monoplanes, gliders, jets, biplanes, paratroopers, more jets, helicopters, even more jets, one after another, ending with the Blue Angels. The historic flybys were very special, where the modern jets would fly with the WWII planes.

I didn't realize how loud these jets could get. When the first jet, an F15 Eagle, came out and hit its afterburners in front of us, I screamed and covered my ears. Every jet performance after that I covered my ears when they'd fly by.

It was amazing to see the Eagle nearly hit the sound barrier and actually see the ringed air formation billow around the jet right before me...twice! I have never witnessed anything quite so cool!

The F16 Falcon's maneuverability with it's tight turns was awesome.

By 13:00, Bug looked like a cooked lobster and he was writhing in pain from the sunburns over his face, neck, arms, and legs. He looked pretty sickly all right. Fortunately, he wore a cap so at least 1/3 of his face wasn't scalded. His burns were pretty bad and he probably should go to the hospital. Because he didn't go to sleep last night, he's able to sleep as I type this entry...after dousing himself with alcohol.

The Blue Angels were exquisite. I found myself screaming at Bug, "OMG THAT WAS AMAZING!" every time the group and the 2 solo pilots flew by. I definitely want to see them again!!

Next time, I'll bring ear plugs and Bug will bring sun block.

- Cassaendra

Monday, August 25, 2008

Love that Chicken!


After reading an article on Popeyes New Loaded Chicken Wrap at, I wanted to try out the wrap, as well as compare the spicy chicken here with the chicken served at Church's. I also wanted to see if the dirty rice is as good as I remembered when I ate it often in Hawaii from a recent Serious Eats post on the topic.

When it was time for me to order, I pointed to the picture of the chicken wrap. No wrap. What? They were not serving it until next week. I looked over at Bug who didn't care. All he wanted was red beans and rice.

I ordered 4 pieces of chicken, large orders of Cajun rice and red beans and rice, and something I hadn't seen before, Cajun battered fries.

Having eaten at Church's just a couple days prior, it was still fresh in my mind what I liked about their chicken. The batch that I had from Popeye's had been sitting there when we walked in, so I'm not sure if this contributed to the lack of crispness or the longer drive time until we got home (30 minutes versus 15 minutes). The flavor of the breading was rather flat. I wasn't impressed.

The dirty rice was bland. I expressed my opinion on SE as being a brownish-grey flavor. There was also no variability in flavor as it once had years ago. It was the same from the first bite, while chewing, and the aftertaste. I did notice the color was duller - it wasn't quite as greasy and peppy as it used to be. Different spices and less lard? Perhaps offal isn't used as much, or at all?

The red beans and rice were still smokey and quite delicious. I ended up mixing the dirty rice with the red beans after I'd eaten the "rice" portion of it.

Despite having sat in a bin under a light for a while, the Cajun battered fries were crispy and good. They were reminiscent to Arby's curly fries but more peppery, moist, and substantial. I think a fresh batch would be awesome.

The sides at Popeye's are still far superior to Church's and even KFC. If Church's was close enough to Popeye's, I would probably buy my spicy chicken and biscuits at Church's and then stop over at Popeye's and get an order of red beans and rice, mashed potatoes with gravy, coleslaw, and fries. Sadly, I didn't see gumbo on the menu.

~ ~ o ~ ~

I just checked out Popeye's website. The Louisiana Legends line of food sounds quite interesting. Where is this served?! Crawfish etouffee! That's one of my favorite dishes at a local Cajun restaurant (Battiste & Dupree). Popeye's Legends menu also lists shrimp creole, smothered chicken, chicken and sausage jambalaya, and creole chicken etouffee. I love meals served over rice. Being the goof (or salt wimp) that I am, I usually eat these dishes over white rice to deaden the saltiness.

The website also has recipes using their food in meals like popcorn shrimp stuffed peppers. It's hidden under the Heritage link.

Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen looks pretty nifty too! I wish there was one near us! They only have two restaurants, both in Georgia, one in Norcross and the other in Fayetteville.

- Cassaendra

4645 Northfield Rd
Cleveland, OH 44128
(216) 475-6066‎

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My First Visit to Church in 25 Years

Church's Chicken that is.

What? Did you really think I meant a *gasp* church with pews? Well, I guess if I took a whiff of the trash receptacles at Church's, I'd be saying "pew."

After some discussion about spicy fried chicken, Popeye's, and southern cooking on Serious Eats, I was encouraged to check out Church's again as it had been at least 25 years since I last patronized one of their restaurants.

Why so long?

Church's disappeared in Hawaii after several years, at least the one location that I knew of on King Street or maybe it was on Beretania Avenue. As a family, we didn't care for Kentucky Fried Chicken because it was too salty. When Church's opened up, that was where we got our southern fried chicken.

When Popeye's opened up on Keeaumoku Street, we exclaimed "Wow - love that chicken!" and became die-hard fans of their chicken, mashed potatoes, and cole slaw. My father and I loved the spicy chicken, a unique menu item in Hawaii, and would eat it with pickled jalapenos. It was a bit much for my poor mother. My mother made sure we ate healthy, but because we enjoyed it so much, this meant we would eat fried chicken once every few months instead of once a year or less.

At the end of the meal, my mother and I would shred the leftover chicken, wrap 2-3 ounces each in plastic wrap, and place them in a container to be stored in the freezer. I would use one serving along with vegetables to top my ramen, or we would use several for an amazing side dish of spicy chicken long rice. Excellent with rice!

What I recall of the dish was a sukiyaki type base incorporated into long rice, shiitake, chicken, ginger, and green onions, which I won't add since I don't like it. I actually prefer it with mai fun instead of the thick, sloppy long rice that's often used at restaurants. I prefer my noodles with texture.

Back to Church's.

We went to the nearest Church's, a White Castle - Church's Chicken restaurant. It took a while to get our order right. Bug was getting irritated.

We wanted a 10 piece chicken meal because it included 2 family sides and biscuits. Apparently, there was a sale going on for 10 pieces of chicken for $9.99, but from what I understood you could not choose your pieces. I am a drumstick girl and Bug is a breast guy (*roll eyes*). We asked for the 10 piece meal for $18 several times and the cashier kept talking about the sale. The sides would have been $4 each separately, plus the cost of the biscuits.

Anyway, after that got resolved, we were disappointed that the person who packed our sides laid them down sideways and gave it to us. They were in little translucent bags of their own, but come on! The gravy and the cole slaw dressing seeped into the bags as we carried it to the car.

The mashed potatoes and cole slaw, the major reason we picked the more expensive option was average. The cole slaw was better than the mashed potatoes. There was a faint sweetness to the mashed potatoes and gravy that I did not care for. I guess we should have taken the hint from the cashier. :)

The biscuits were pretty good. You could taste honey with every buttery bite. They'd be better if they weren't so damn dry.

The chicken...the chicken was extremely moist, and the breading was crisp and tasty. The spiciness was definitely present and it wasn't extremely salty. Yay! It was a little peppery and had a more complex flavor than your average fried chicken. The chicken received three thumbs up from Bug. He actually compared it favorably to his beloved Super K-Mart fried chicken; something he has never done before until now.

Without a doubt, Popeye's has the superior side dishes, and good chicken to boot. It's too bad we have to travel a distance to get to a store; part of the reason we've only gone to one 3 times in 10 years. When we did go, we just got chicken, mashed potatoes, and cole slaw. The dirty rice and gumbo were a bit expensive for the serving size...I do not remember it being quite that expensive in Hawaii.

We'll definitely be back, and will most certainly skip the sides, and order a couple of biscuits separately. If we really want cole slaw and mashed potatoes, there's a KFC less than a block away.

- Cassaendra

Church's Chicken

5151 Pearl Rd
Cleveland, OH 44129
216 398-5155

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sukiyaki Dinner and a Movie

For a nice night at home with good entertainment and dinner, a sukiyaki theme can never fail.

The movie --- Sukiyaki Western Django
Takashi Miike. Spaghetti Western. Genji versus Heike. Quentin Tarantino. Go.

Trailer to Sukiyaki Western Django, 2007

One major item to note: Avoid the American edited version. Get the full Japanese version!

The dinner --- Sukiyaki
On Serious Eats, a blog I often visit, there was a request to post my sukiyaki recipe as a result of a discussion on shirataki. This was rather difficult, and I explained this, because I don't use any measurements when preparing this dish.

1 lb wafered lean beef (or 2 lb if you LOVE meat)
Chinese cabbage, cut into bite-sized pieces
12 oz block extra firm tofu, cut into bite-sized cubes
14 oz shirataki, rinse and drain
1 bag enoki mushrooms
7-8 young bamboo shoot tips (skinny) or a can of sliced bamboo shoots if you can’t find whole shoots
2 shiitake, rehydrated
1 Japanese leek (or scallion) – I don’t eat onions so I don’t use it
vegetable oil

raw egg
cooked medium-grain white rice

soy sauce
brown sugar

Mix soy sauce, water, and sake (1 : 2 : 1/2 ratio, respectively, is a good start) with brown sugar – adjust to taste. It shouldn’t be extremely salty or very sweet. The amount depends on the size of your deep pan that you’ll be cooking and serving this dish in. I usually make enough that it stands under an inch when poured in the pan. Set aside.

Since I don’t have a way to cook at the table, I cook the entire batch at once. If you can cook at the table, cook each ingredient in equal parts in small portions and refill ingredients as needed.

On medium heat, add some oil to the pan. Separate the thin slices of meat and cook it in the pan so they’re not stuck together. If you can buy sukiyaki meat at a Japanese grocer, it’ll come with a brick of fat that looks like a small eraser. Use that instead of the oil.

Once the meat is mostly cooked, move it to one part of the pan. Add the stock. Throw in the shiitake mushrooms.

Add the Chinese cabbage and cook for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, flip the meat around so the meat sitting above the stock is now in the stock. Move the cabbage alongside the meat.

Do not mix the ingredients together so they intermingle. Each ingredient should stand in its own quadrant.

Add the shirataki. Cook for a couple of minutes and mix it so the noodles are coated with the base. Move the noodles alongside the cabbage.

Add tofu and cook it so the tofu is evenly coated with the stock as possible. The pan will be pretty full.

Flip the meat, cabbage, and shirataki.

Add the bamboo shoots. Mix it around so it’s coated.

I usually make room in the middle and add the enoki mushroom bunch, in front of the meat, then move the two shiitake to the center with it. This is purely aesthetic.

One last time…flip the ingredients in the stock. (I’m probably being OCD at this point)

Throw the leek in and simmer for a few minutes. I don’t eat onions, so I never use leeks, but every restaurant serves it and my mother used it. It’s all yours.

Serve with white rice in a small bowl. The raw egg is cracked and beaten in a separate small bowl for personal consumption. Dip a small portion of the now pretty steaming hot medley into the cold egg and eat with rice.

Because it’s a hotpot type of dish, you can add/drop ingredients that you like/don’t like, e.g., white onions, other types of noodles, spinach, carrots. Whether it will mesh well, who knows? There are also variations on when to add the stock - beginning, middle, or end - and the use of mirin instead of sake.

Sukiyaki Western Django introduction

Slurping the bubbling sukiyaki with Kitajima Saburo singing the main theme, ahh bliss.


- Cassaendra

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bang, Zoom, Straight to the Moon!

The National Museum of the US Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force base was awesome.

It was a 4 hour drive to get there on a clear and cool morning. Ten minutes into our drive, we saw four people pulled over in a cluster on the highway. Bug drove at or just under the speed limit even before seeing the troopers, but seeing cops stationed or people pulled over every 30 minutes reinforced driving lawfully over the entire trip to and from Wright-Patterson. Bug has matured from the zooming down the highway stage.

We witnessed at least 20 people pulled over to the side. One of the drivers who was pulled over actually drove behind us in an SUV. We noticed the patrol car inch forward as we passed it. The driver behind us moved to the passing lane and zipped past us. Several seconds later, the trooper drove past us without alarm and followed the SUV driver for a couple of seconds. The driver then moved back over into our lane, 3 cars ahead. At that point, the siren went off and the SUV was pulled over at a conveniently situated rest stop on-ramp.

Driving past the front of the museum, I joked whether or not we were at the right place, with 3 connected hangars and 1 IMAX theater, that read on the backside of the theater, in bold, black lettering, each at least 4 feet tall on a silver background:


The museum covered the first years of flight through WW II planes in one hangar, Southeast Asia and Korean jets in a second hangar, and Cold War to current jets in the third hangar. There are offshoot areas for space and missiles, National Aviation Hall of Fame, and an IMAX theater.

When we got there, we found out about the presidential and R&D gallery tour that is on a first come, first served basis. It was already filled for the day at 11:30 a.m. Maybe next time we'll get there earlier.

We spent 4 hours there, keeping a brisk pace, and didn't see every wall display there. We could have spent another hour there or more if we read everything, much longer if we viewed the presidential and R&D galleries (PDF file brochure of the museum). It was a lot larger than we expected.

The displays were artfully done with great sets, sound, and lighting, but not overdone as to appear gaudy. There were taped programs at each major area. There were also wall displays that were beautifully done. I was amazed at how well done everything was. Clean bathrooms everywhere, and logically laid out so that you're lead from one area to another.

Being able to walk inside a C-125C was really cool. We happened to walk in with someone who was stationed in Hawaii and serviced them. He told Bug and I about how he used to service them while they were in flight.

What I came away with was a perspective and an appreciation for the pilots and engineers. Some of the WWII planes were so tiny and seemed so flimsy, in particular the Zero. It almost seems like just a generation ago, people were from Lilliput to have fit in the machine gun turrets. On the flip side, there were planes that were so enormous that 2-3 jets were displayed under each wing!

I was awed being able to stand inches away from jets that were my personal favorites while I was a schoolgirl. I walked around the SR-71 and the F117 several times!

On the way home, through our fearless navigation...and a wee bit of help from our little hand-held GPS...we went to Easton Town Center to our favorite Japanese restaurant in Ohio, Hama, for dinner. Their ramen is a good rendition of ramen served in Japan. Unfortunately but to be expected, the prices at dinner are a few dollars more than their lunch menu.

Since Bug cooks an excellent batch of curry rice, I felt no need to order it. Hama also has a Korean menu, so I chose their Bulgogi teishoku ($17). Teishoku is about variety, but this was a little much for me. Everything was delicious, however, and I appreciated the color and texture variety.

In the first section:
shibazuke (purple pickled cucumbers)
seaweed salad
ika (squid) salad
finely shredded daikon and carrot salad

Second section:
6 pieces of California sushi

Third section:
spring rolls with ginger dressing

Main sections:
good-sized portion of bulgogi

Center section:
Japanese-inspired potato salad
- off center, a dollop of wasabi

The bulgogi was pretty good, it actually had slivers of fresh shiitake which was quite different and something to remember when we next make bulgogi! My meal also came with a house salad in onion dressing, as well as a bowl of white miso soup.

Bug ordered what he always orders, ramen ($10). It comes with boiled egg, char siu, and green onions, with tempura on the side (2 ebi, 1 broccoli, 1 potato, 1 mushroom; $5). The broth was excellent, as usual, but the noodles were a touch past done for my taste.

We ordered sushi to start. When I go there, I don't order traditional nigirizushi, but makizushi that is unique to the chef. I ordered their carpaccio roll (beef carpaccio, cucumber, avocado, special sauce; $8) and Miki roll (deep fried salmon, asparagus, crab, tempura flakes, spicy mayo; $13). The Miki roll was too big. I should have known better to think that it would fit in my mouth in one bite.

What totally ruined Bug's experience there was the service order. The sushi came after we were 1/4 through our meal. We asked for it as an appetizer. Bug also received his tempura several minutes before being served his ramen.

The service order really needs to be looked at - it's quite unprofessional. Bug was quite upset, but didn't say anything to the staff.

We didn't once have the GPS sigh, "Recalculating." Yay!

- Cassaendra

Restaurant Hama
3945 Easton Station
Columbus, OH 43219
614 478-9543

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Midnight Meat Train

Sitting in a darkened theater ~6 months ago, I was awed by the imagery of the preview for Midnight Meat Train, directed by Ryuhei Kitamura. The flash of the large chunk of chrome. The blue gelatinous fuzziness. The grit.

Bug told me this film was based on a Clive Barker short story, of the same name, from his anthology, "Books of Blood." I'm one of those people that likes to read the first chapter and then the last chapter of a book when I'm intrigued by the story.

The next time we went to Border's, Bug pointed the book out to me and wandered off to the section that sings his name when he steps into any bookstore - world history. I stared at the book for a few seconds. The temptation got the better of me. I quickly pulled the book from the shelf, leafed through until I saw a "Meat Train" flash by, slowly flipped to the start of the story, and hungrily read the first few pages and then flipped to last few pages of the story.

Confused, my interest was further piqued, I went online and read a synopsis of the book and the movie. The ending made more sense then, with the movie twist obviously revealed.

Revealing the conclusion makes no difference to me when I go to see a movie. I go to movies to enjoy the journey and would actually prefer to know the ending so I know not to waste my money and, more importantly, time, sitting for 2 hours through a journey that I feel isn't worth my time to take.

Bug called me on the phone at work Tuesday informing me that the movie was playing in only 100 theaters across the US on Friday. Disappointed, I thought what chance would we have of it showing in our area? Would this entail another trip to Pittsburgh?

Midnight Meat Train was slated to have opened in May,postponed, then scheduled to open the same week as Hell Boy (July), postponed, then a week later, and postponed yet again.

While on the phone, I heard Bug busily tapping away on his keyboard looking up locations. He found one just a few 'burbs away, at the Cinemark 10. Hell, there were at least 7 theaters showing the movie in Ohio.

I quickly emailed my boss to ask for Friday off. A minute later, I received a reply, "Enjoy!" I raised my hands in victory and whispered excitedly, "Yes!"

On Thursday, I mentioned the Cinemark 10 while I was in the office of my coworker who lives in the area. She suggested that I go to Manhattan Deli as it's near the theater. I asked about the portions and price, she said the portions are huge and the price a lot cheaper than Corky & Lenny's. She briefly mentioned that movies at the theater cost $2.50. $2.50? I laughed it off in my head and walked back to my office.

After work, we decided to figure out where the movie theater was located so we wouldn't be lost and late the day of the showing. We plugged the address into our handheld GPS and went.

We found ourselves at a very familiar strip mall from an adventure a few years back. Drove by the theater and, to my surprise, saw Manhattan Deli next door. I assumed "nearby" meant down the block.

Since we were a bit peckish, we stopped in. On the drive over, I mentioned the deli to Bug and my coworker's description. Service at first was mediocre. I could see Bug ready to walk out since it took nearly 10 minutes before anyone stopped by our table. The prices were on par with Corky & Lenny's.

Someone finally came, and I ordered water, fattoush to split between the both of us minus onions ($7), and soup & 1/2 sandwich ($7) - chicken noodle and corned beef. Bug ordered a reuben ($8) and water.

A large platter of fattoush came. I was surprised at the large serving size. It was all right. My chicken noodle soup was ok. I'm not really into sour chicken noodle soup. I was quite disappointed with the serving size of my half-sandwich. The corned beef was loosely thrown in and was the thickness of one slice of bread. I got 3 shavings of fatty corned beef.

Bug was horribly disappointed. The sandwich was the same size as mine. He probably got 7 shavings of corned beef. He did have fries that were quite tasty - similar overtones to Burger King fries. They were freshly made and had corpuscular growths all over. I presume they were batter dipped and then deep fried.

Despite the tasty fries, Bug was not impressed. He mumbled something about almost feeling violated.

We returned to the scene of the crime at 12:22 p.m. Friday. I walked in to purchase tickets and the cashier said, "$2.50." I repeated, "$2.50?" I gave her my credit card sheepishly, and asked, "For two people?" She looked at me blankly and nodded. I stammered and said, "Sorry, I'm just so used to paying $14.00 for a matinée."

Soda and popcorn were a couple dollars cheaper than regular theaters. The popcorn was quite underwhelming.

Midnight Meat Train is about Leon, who lives with his girlfriend, and aspires to be a successful photographer. Through his girlfriend, he gets an audience with a big time gallery owner who tells him after looking at his work to only return when he has truly captured the city after she has pointed out a photograph of a hobo leaning over near a businessman in a train. The gallery owner tells Leon she wants to see the reaction of the businessman as he is being touched by the hobo, and goes on to describe his work as being at the right place, but not being captured at the right time.

Leon catches a woman being harassed by a gang in the subway, moments before she would have been raped. He takes pictures of the incident, and ends up stoping the rape from commencing. He takes a last shot of the woman, a Japanese model, as she enters one of the train cars, where a man with a star emblem on his ring holds open the door from the inside.

The next day, Leon sees a newspaper article written about a missing model - the same woman he saw the previous night. He assumes it is the gang and goes to the police with photographs. He is rebuked and made to feel like a stalker. The photographs of the gang and woman are inspiring to the gallery owner. She offers him an exhibit if he takes 2 more.

Later that evening, he sits outside the subway station and is intrigued by the large, serious looking man neatly dressed in a suit and carrying a large leather satchel, "Mahogany" imprinted, riding up the escalator, and follows him, continuing to shoot him. The imposing man turns a corner and catches Leon with his arm. Leon is mortified. We see along with Leon, the star emblem on his signet.

Leon is obsessed with Mahogany and follows him during the day and evening. Mahogany works at a meat processing plant in the city. At night, he waits at the subway and takes the last train.

Leon goes to the library and sees an article of a butcher suspected of killing people. When he returns home, he looks through his shots and notices the final shot of the model and the signet on the hand that holds the train door open. Leon is positive he is butchering people. As time passes, we see Leon's transformation, becoming more and more obsessed with the disappearance of the model and what lies beyond.

Throughout the movie, you see ultra-realistic, yet dreamlike shots of Mahogany pummeling people with his humongous chrome hammer and his other horrific instruments, efficiently exercising his task. Blood is splattered everywhere, victims panicking, slipping and sliding, as they try to escape the horror, while he is in total control, spotless and methodical.

I can't describe any further since it'll ruin the ending. :P

MMT was a gruesome and engaging piece. I hope it will come out on Blu-Ray with decent extras. Unfortunately, Lions Gate has done a great disservice to this film due to funky movie politics by opening this movie at dollar theaters, so I'm not holding my breath.

- Cassaendra

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