Sunday, March 23, 2008

Krungthep Mahanakorn...

...amornratanakosin mahintara yutthayamahadilok phop nopparatrajathani burirom udomrajaniwes mahasatharn amornphimarn avatarnsathit sakkattiya visanukam prasit.

Nested in a slightly rundown strip mall in a good part of town, is a cozy Thai restaurant, Bangkok Thai Cuisine.

The parking was a bit of a pain. With 2 feet of ice packed along the perimeter of the back parking lot and people who don't know how to park, we scrubbed our car down to the base navigating in the dark, dinky back parking lot. We drove to the front, where there is 1 row of parking along the length of the mall. We lucked out and pulled in to a spot right in front of the restaurant as someone left.

Walking in, you are immediately greeted by a short wood panel. Once your eyes focus beyond that, a spicy warm moderately lit dining room in shades of dark blues, browns, orange, and slivers of gold embraces you.

At first, I wanted to try the duck choo chee, but Bug and I decided to try dishes we always order at other Thai restaurants so we are better able to compare.

We ordered pad thai, mango curry, and beef with basil. The prices were a few dollars lower than Lemongrass, and scaled proportionately with the serving size. As far as quantity, this is a great place if you don't want to go home with leftovers. The portions are just the right size to keep you comfortably sated and not ill-full or lugging leftovers around.

My mango curry was rich, but not overwhelming. The balance of tamarind, Thai basil, galangal, fresh mango chunks, coconut, and peppers were perfect. I really enjoyed my dish. Biting into mangos that have texture and flavor is rare in these parts. The serving dishes were a mix of different ceramics. It was eclectic as are many Thai restaurants.

The pad thai was tasty and not overly sweet. Not too different from the other Thai restaurants -- I wouldn't expect it to be very different anyway. I wish I could have had more, so that's a good thing.

The beef basil that Bug had was delicious. I think Bug was disappointed because his platter wasn't larger. I thought it was the same amount of food, just served in a different shaped platter. I picked through this because he always gets it with onions, so at most I had 2 bites. What I tasted, I liked. It wasn't very different from other places, except this one didn't taste quite so salty. Not so good for most people, great for me. Too bad. :)

Since I am finishing this up months after our trip there, I am trying to remember if jasmine rice was served. I have the strangest feeling that it wasn't, but that sounds ridiculous since Thai food blends so well with jasmine rice but not so much with other rice. Oh well. I guess that means we have to go back to verify this.

- Cassaendra

Bangkok Thai Cuisine
5359 Mayfield Road
Lyndhurst, OH 44124

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Asphalt Beach

I was standing on a side street waiting for Bug to pick me up from work. It was fairly nippy, 25 degrees and a little breezy. Dirty street snow was piled high everywhere, as we were just getting over our 2 feet of snowfall over the weekend.

Bug and I made eye contact as he was waiting at the intersection. It seemed like a long time before I saw the car creep forward to make the left turn. Then I saw pieces of the car flying through the air and heard a loud CRUNCH.

I didn't move my eyes off Bug as he spun several times in my direction from the impact, which was just 20 or so yards away. I ran across the side street to him without thinking about the oncoming traffic. The cross-traffic light where I had been waiting had already turned green. When I got to him, the car stopped spinning as it hit the sturdy stoplight post head-on. A dizzy sensation came over me for a brief second, as I was in a similar accident just a little over 3 years ago.

A van ran a red light going probably 45-50 mph to go on a highway onramp while I drove forward on the green. I spun across 3 of 6 lanes of one-way traffic into downtown during morning rush hour. I remember fumbling to get out of the car. I didn't care if there was moving traffic. Between the impact, the spinning, and the tight seatbelt, I couldn't breathe! All I could think of was that I wanted to get the hell out of my car before it blew up. I looked up to see the van drive onto the onramp and realized everything was a little blurry.

My glasses. My favorite pair of glasses were gone.

Drivers were talking to me, I couldn't understand what they were saying. People were angry and beeping at me to move. My car was completely perpendicular to the direction I was driving, facing Downtown, and fit in one of the lanes. It was as if I was driving along the road to go to town and just stopped...except for the damage that was only visible once you drove by. The impact was in the rear passenger side, right on the gas tank. Broken axle among other parts. Total loss.

I looked everywhere in the car and on the street for my glasses. They were nowhere to be found.

When I reached Bug, I saw that he was frustrated. Then I gasped at what I saw before me. My car with its wheel bent in at a 45 degree angle. The entire passenger front-end was crushed. Pieces of the lamp strewn along the street and into the snow banks. I looked up to see Bug quickly running over to see if the other driver was okay. All the other guy did was yell at him that he cut him off. Annoying. The car that was driving next to the car that crashed into Bug was stopped for the light.

It was as if a bubble in reality had popped. The frigidity returned.

The police where I work were quick at the scene and were able to direct traffic within 2 stoplight changes. Ambulance was there within 5 minutes. When the district police came, they were very professional. Of course, with only me available as a witness by the time police came, as everyone else had driven off, we were left with no witnesses. Did the usual calls. Tow truck ETA was 90 minutes.

My insurance company took care of getting us a rental car, but because it was afterhours, she arranged to have me picked up from home and taken to the rental car agency first thing the next morning. USAA is the best.

Two hours later, the tow truck still hadn't shown up. Bug was getting extremely agitated. I spoke with the AAA operator to follow-up on the tow truck and was told it was going to be another 2 hours. Bug took the phone from me and handled things.

Five minutes later, a truck came by and hauled our car away. It was interesting to watch as my undrivable car was cinched up with a chain onto the platform. I had always wondered how wrecked cars were hoisted and transported.

Glad that Bug is okay, shell-shocked, but okay.

- Cassaendra

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Zombies Gone Wild

Bug being a huge George Romero fan (Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, ...) was excited that Diary of the Dead was being released...except it was only being shown in 30 theaters, none of which were in Ohio.

He checked online every day for additional theater releases. The closest theater was in Homestead, where part of the movie was to have taken place in Pittsburgh.

I don't mind zombie films. Heck, one of my favorite movies is a zombie film (sorta) - Tokyo Zombie. But we...I...had to find another reason to travel to Pittsburgh.

Exactly two years ago, we traveled to Monroeville Mall, where "Dawn of the Dead" was filmed in 1978. It was en route to our vacation at Niagara Falls, albeit a detour in the opposite direction. Niagara Falls in February is AWESOME.

Anyway, I remembered that there was an IKEA there! I was hoping that it wasn't in some farflung suburb. It wasn't. Yay!

Bug found out that there were a couple of Sonics in the area too. (Surprise!)

So we went on our journey last weekend with my scribbled notes because work has been a major stress headache that I had no time to prepare for this trip that we firmly decided to do 2 days previous.

As expected, everywhere we went we got lost. At least we had beef jerky. Chomp chomp chew chew chew.

We eventually found our way to the Loew's theater in Homestead, which was on the waterfront. Pittsburgh is a beautiful city. This was our first time driving through downtown Pittsburgh. It has a character that is hard to explain. I wish I could have taken along a camera. The colors and architecture of mismatched old and new, blends so well together! It still sucks to drive in this city because the streets wind, instead of being in a grid, and then they end on a highway on-ramp.

The movie was all right. I wasn't told anything except that it was a zombie movie, so I was sort of surprised that the movie was centered around students making a zombie movie, and find themselves in a real life situation. It is from the point of view of the aspiring director of the film, who becomes the cameraman of his documentary. The first incident took place in Homestead, PA. Talk about seeing a movie at the right place.

Next, finding IKEA. We were lost and not lost. There were moments we had no clue where we were going on the highway. And then I saw a huge oasis of big box stores. Jeez. Everything was big, bigger, and biggest. We were lucky to find a close spot near the front of IKEA-zoo.

When we walked through the packed door, I am convinced there was a sound of trumpets and angels singing. Then I saw the kids running around to the left in a playroom (wow!), and everyone being shuffled forward. This place was like a carnival in the summertime, packed with wandering people a little livelier than zombies, but without the cotton candy.

The prices were wonderful and the styles so useful! Shelves that would fit our apartment perfectly for $30. Bed for $99. It's a great store that even Bug wanted to return to once we have the funds.

We wrapped up our tour of the store with a meal. Apple pie that was PACKED with apple slices. Not just sloppy wedges of apples in sloppy and gooey sauce, but neatly piled spiced apples that were layered neatly in a crust.

I got the special - meatballs with lingonberry jam and mac-cheese. Yummy! Bug got the chicken marsala with steamed veggies. I fell in love with the veggies! There was a yellow vegetable that looked and tasted like a carrot. Mmmm! We walked out STUFFED, brimming with ideas, and clutched in our hands 2 bags of coffee and 2 bottles of lingonberry jam.

Now, to get to Sonic...with our full bellies. The directions said it would take us 12 minutes. It took us over an hour. We got lost 3-4 times. We were about to give up when I decided to ask for directions at a Sheetz.

Of course, it was one block away.

I wanted a burger, no onions, with mayo, ketchup, and mustard. Bug ordered it without onions and everything else on it. The person on the speaker asked, "plain, no onions?" I asked Bug, "please confirm that they will put in mayo, ketchup, and mustard. She said plain." Twice. He didn't.

I got my burger. As I suspected, it had no mayo, no mustard, no ketchup. We got into a HUGE argument. He got the burger fixed, but I was still FUMING and threw his food on the floor of the car - chili cheese tots, chili cheese coney, and a burger. When it got in the way of my feet, I threw them in the back seat. The trip home was a very quiet one. Chomp chomp chew chew chew.

Of course, as things seem to go, Bug looked online to see if they added more theatres a couple days later. Yep, it is playing at one theater locally this weekend.

- Cassaendra

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