Infected!

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No, I haven’t come down with the dreaded swine flu… yet. But I did pick a copy of Left 4 Dead and the effect on my free time may be about the same.

Those hardware upgrades that I originally intended to use for Windows Vista now seem worth it. The game lives up to all of the praise. It now may take a bit of doing to drag me away from the zombie apocalypse and back to the blogosphere.

(Nerd) Lunch Special: McDonald’s McCafe

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I cannot believe we’ve ran this blog for over a year and half and not done a post about caffeine. All three of your proprietors are moderately caffeinated on most days and it’s a good bet that at least one of us is running at unhealthy levels in any given week.

I’m cheap/poor, so I mostly brew my joe at home. I do enjoy the coffeehouse experience, but with rising prices and shrinking sizes it’s become harder and harder to feel like I get my money’s worth, especially from the mermaid. McDonald’s jumped on that trend a couple summers ago with their Premium Brewed Coffee and Iced Coffee drinks. A big tub of not-so-good coffee for under $2? Yep, I can get behind that.

mmmmm... coffeeMcD’s has now begun their full assault on the mermaid’s more upscale territory. Over the last several months, many stores have added McCafe bars offering more froo-froo coffee drinks. I recently needed a caffeine jolt while traveling and picked up a McCafe Iced Mocha along the way.

The staff seemed a bit perplexed about how to make my drink, but it turned out OK. It was not endorphin producing like an all time favorite (I’m looking at you, Caribou), but enjoyable enough. My only reservation is that the pricing for the McCafe menu is more like the mermaid than it is the $2 bucket of joe. So thanks, McD’s, for bring some competition to coffee, just don’t forget that cheap is one of the reasons we all come to McDonald’s.

Resolute!

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I recently suffered through a few hours of the original G.I. Joe cartoon, partly out of nostalgic curiosity and partly out of a sense of duty to the blog. The ten minutes I just watched more than made up for it.

Today AdultSwim.com posted the first two minisodes of the new G.I. Joe Resolute cartoon. Simply put, this is the G.I. Joe I've been waiting for since 1982. Granted, I probably wouldn't have been allowed to watch this in 1982, but that's beside the point.

I want (at least) 52 half hour episodes full of serialized story-telling and crazy continuity.

At no point did Snake Eyes dress like a girl. At no point did any of the characters show up at homebase riding on cows. There were no fire-breathing minotaurs (fatal fluffies). No one fought using yodeling. And in the 30 seconds of screen time Cobra Commander gets, he undoes all the idiocy performed by his Sunbow predecessor and shows us he may be the meanest, baddest villain ever on celluloid.

Top notch and I can't wait for more.

Let The Right Walrus In

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let_the_right_one_in_poster First of all, major props to our guy, Nick Digilio, for singing the praises of Let The Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in). If not for the Nick D Show Best Movies of 2008 wrap up, I would never have heard of the Swedish vampire flick, let alone watched it.

Great googly moogly, this movie is intense. The shocking moments are paced out just right to produce high drama and some seriously scary stuff. On top of that, any potential cheese is removed by portraying all the vampire details completely seriously.

Story

I’ll avoid spoilers, since this is one of our more timely reviews. The story centers on the relationship that develops between an adolescent outcast, Oskar, and a 12 year old (looking) vampire, Ely. The plot is engaging, tight, and authentic. As someone who writes for a blog called Nerd Lunch, you probably could guess that I would connect to story about misfits. Though who would guess that sort of simpatico would also translate to Swedish vampires?

Presentation

The film is shot beautifully. It captures the starkness of the nordic landscape and is extremely successful in keeping the tension high. I also like that the vampire elements are portrayed with necessary, but not gratuitous gore. Generally speaking the special effects are quite good, though there is one scene involving some cats which looks a bit off.

The soundtrack is fantastic as well. It features a nice classical score mixed some Swedish pop, both of which seem to pluck all the right emotional chords.

STORY

walrus walrus walrus walrus

PRESENTATION

walrus walrus walrus walrus walrus_half

REWATCHABLE

walrus_reyes 

Two hours well spent and, yes, I’d do it again.

(Nerd) Lunch Special: Culver's ButterBurger

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The_Culvers_DeluxeThe name Culver's probably doesn’t mean anything to those outside the Midwest. The burger chain started in Wisconsin and still has most of their locations in the Upper Midwest. While they offer some uniquely Midwest items like pork tenderloins and fried cheese curds, Culver's specialties are quick seared ButterBurgers and frozen custard. I recently had a free afternoon and a coupon burning a hole in my pocket, so I headed off to my local Culver's for dinner.

I opted for the Double Deluxe which comes fully loaded with mayonnaise, pickles, onions, lettuce, tomato, and American cheese. The sammich is reminiscent of a Wendy's Double, if the Wendy’s burger were executed to perfection. To quote Jules Winnfield, “this is a tasty burger”.

I did not get any frozen custard this time, but Culver’s nails that too. They feature a rotating flavor of the day as well as sundaes, shakes, and the Concrete Mixer, their version of DQ’s Blizzard. Since it’s unlikely I’ll make it to Custard Cup soon, I’ll be getting my next custard fix from Culver’s.

Sorry I stayed away so long, Culver’s. I’ll be seeing you again soon.

The Phantom: The Ghost Who Sucks

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Here's concept art for the new SyFy pilot based on the Phantom. Now I grant you, it doesn't make a lot of sense to run around the jungle in a dark purple leotard with your underwear on the outside . . . but this here is not working for me. Maybe add a domino mask and some high boots?

And hopefully the lead actor will not show up to work with little stick arms as depicted in the concept art. Your friend Billy Zane hit the gym in an era when most guys were relying on the Michael Keaton bodysuit to play superheroes.

But cast Bruce Campbell as the retiring Phantom Sr. and all will be forgiven (though at this stage of his physical collapse, I hope they don't put Bruce in the leotard).

Walrus-sama

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Except this guy isn't Akira Let me be up front about this: I have never understood anime or manga. I liked Vampire Hunter D when I saw it about 12 years ago, but generally speaking the appeal has been completely lost on me. Despite the unsatisfying experiences I’ve had with anime, I’ve felt like I’ve been missing out. Do all those anime loving fellow nerds know something I don’t know?

With that question in mind and the disproportionate amount of anime in my local library at hand, I decided to give it another try with the Lawrence of Arabia of anime movies, Akira.

Story

The story is set in a dystopian future in which Japan has rebuilt from World War III, is fending off anti-government insurgents, and is preparing to host the 2020 Olympics. I’m a sucker for anything featuring dystopian elements, cyberpunk, or military-industrial superweapon programs, so a lot of the story clicked with me. However, the viewer is thrown into the story and expected to fill in the gaps as the story unfolds. Perhaps that would have been easier if I knew the full context of the original manga, but as it was I struggled to follow everything that went on.

The story also addresses some heavy duty themes in a sincere way. That was very cool to see in an animated feature. The one gripe I have about the themes is how little impact the carnage of the story has on the main characters. Like many items of Japanese pop-culture, Akira makes a strong statement against nuclear weapons, yet the main characters seem barely affected by the millions of people which are killed during the course of the film.

Presentation

To be brief, the animation is incredible. While it still features some of the standard anime staples that I hate (odd proportions, weird facial expressions, etc.), the movie is worth watching for the animation alone.

STORY

PRESENTATION

REWATCHABLE

Sign me up for a second viewing. I missed enough of the plot that I needed Wikipedia to fill in the gaps, so there’s reason to check it out again beyond the animation.

Help me out, anime nerds. What else is out there that I’m likely to enjoy? Fitz, do you want to put in a plug for Fullmetal Alchemist?

(Nerd) Lunch Special: The Double-Meat Slyder

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Back in college, CT and I probably took years off each other’s lives by playing games of eating one-upmanship. So when CT threw down the double meat gauntlet, I knew that I would have to try it too. Since CT thought that cheap eats would make the best starter material, I decided to try building a double meat slyder at my local White Castle.

I decided to pair up a regular slyder and a chicken breast sandwich. I added a dollop of mayo since White Castle sandwiches come without condiments.

Assembling a double meat slyder

Per CT’s instructions, I used the extra buns to make a carb laden French fry sandwich. The fry sandwich ended up being mighty dry and warranting two packets of condiments.

Too much carbs

There’s some definite double meat potential here. However, the single slyder patty was overpowered by the chicken and I would recommend starting with a double cheeseburger slider and adding the chicken to that. I had no complaints, as you can see from the aftermath.

Seconds anyone?

 

More double-meat hossin’

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