Friday, April 15, 2011


There was an article in last week's Economist magazine about a growing movement in two counties in southern Arizona which includes the city of Tucson who desire to secede from Arizona and name their new state Baja Arizona.  Apparently, the citizens of Tucson do not identify very closely with their neighbors to the north in Phoenix.  The Tucsonians say they realize they live in a desert and maintain rock lawns and cacti to happily exist.  They claim the people in Phoenix are mostly transplants from other areas and bring their desires for green lawns with them and do not respect the limited water supply.  Furthermore, the Phoenix area is ardently Republican and nativist in their attitudes towards immigration while the Tucsonians consider themselves moderate, cultured, and more pragmatic concerning immigration issues.  A hearty few of Tucson's citizens are now trying to further the secession issue through ballot measures and legislative proposals.  Here's to Baja Arizona.

Similarly, I learned in the same article there has been a quiet movement here in the northwest the past few decades to form the area of land from Portland up north to Vancouver, BC as a new state and name it Cascadia.  Likewise with the Baja Arizonans, many Cascadians do not identify very much with their neighbors in the eastern parts of Washington and Oregon and have the idea to forge ahead with their likeminded peers and inaugurate Cascadia. 

Many people talk about breaking apart the hodgepodge which is California and every election cycle it seems as if Texas is ready to separate itself and build an electrified fence between itself and every border they possess.  I realize the idea of Baja Arizona and Cascadia will never come to pass, but sometimes it's pleasant to sit back and imagine a state called Cascadia.  It has a certain relaxing ring to it.  I'll keep you posted if I run into a button or poster trying to further the cause :)

New Seattle Eats, Drinks, and Others

One of the top 5 benefits to being back in Seattle is now I can go to all of the restaurants, bars, clubs etc... I have been reading about for years but never able to go to.  During our first day in town yesterday, Kate and I went to three new places I've never been before.

For lunch, we just went up the hill to Azuma Sushi on California St.  Kate went there when we were here in February and said it was the best sushi she ever had; therefore, it was our first meal in town.  I am not as wild about the sushi as she is.  The rolls were a bit clumsily made and were not particularly noteworthy; however, this does not apply to the Spicy Crunchy California roll.  This may very well be the best sushi roll ever created.  For future visits, this will be the only roll ordered by me.  The miso soup was awesome as well, pretty hard to mess that up, but figured I would mention it. 

For dinner, we went down to Alki Beach to a brand new Mexican restaurant called El Chupacabra.  We are always searching for the perfect burrito, even more so now since we left our favorite burrito place in Norfolk, Luna Maya.  El Chupacabra does not have the perfect burrito, but their burritos are just fine.  We both had the veggie burrito and enjoyed them very much.  Even better, they have a salsa bar with four different salsas to try (regular, verde, roja, and pineapple).  You can get a dish of each and mix and match.  The restaurant is way too dark, but it looks like it has a bar which becomes much more populated at night.  Also, it has a patio for outside eating when the weather warms up.

For evening entertainment, we went to Norm's in Fremont for trivia night.  I love this place.  They are canine friendly and had a bunch of dogs hanging out with their owners at multiple tables.  Their draft beer selection is above average and they even serve 40oz. PBRs in paper bags.  The trivia guy runs a good game and it is quite popular since there were about 20 teams playing last night.  The games goes a bit slow, but it's not overly complicated and we'll most likely make this a recurring Thursday evening event.  Go Honey Nut Ichiros!...our team name.

Friday, April 8, 2011


The story is well done, the script is mostly fresh and intelligent, and the jokes are funny.  None of the songs are particularly memorable but at least they do not slow down the movie too much.  The most enjoyable part of this Rapunzel story are the side characters.  In almost all Disney movies, the main character has a character sidekick, same here.  Rapunzel's sidekick is a chameleon named Pascal who is ok but the funniest character in the movie is a horse named Maximus who has all human mannerisms, but is a horse.  I laughed at every scene that horse was in.  A close second are the 'ruffians' who Rapunzel runs into.  They probably have the funniest song in the movie, each are drawn with their respective overemphasized distinguishing characteristics, and they provide fresh material when the main story gets bogged down with the actual Rapunzel storyline.  The main villain is not very interesting nor completely evil so she is mostly forgettable and makes you wait for the supporting characters, especially that horse, to come back on screen.  Overall, an enjoyable movie.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Casanova by Ian Kelly

The name Casanova comes with a lot of baggage.  After reading this book, it turns out Giacomo Casanova was not that different than the others guys in his time, he just took the time to write it all down.  He did not sugarcoat it most of the time either, if he messed up, he wrote about it.  Casanova's life reads like an 18th century travelogue.  There were not many travellers back then, so when an individual visited the staggering amount of cities he did, people can learn many things from his writings about them.  Casanova wrote prolifically about food, theatres, books, plays, and yes, women.  He writes about meeting Voltaire, Frederick the Great, and Catherine the Great.  He was arrested by the Venice Inquisition but escaped from jail.  He starts in Venice, goes all over what is now Italy, Paris, most of the Germanic states, St. Petersburg, London, Constantinople, just an amazing number of locales in a time when the vast majority of humans stayed put.

This was a very enjoyable read.  Ian Kelly obviously spent years combing through the letters and books Casanova left behind and even fact checked them making sure people were where he said they were throughout the 18th century.  I learned a lot about 18th century travel and European states of affairs from this book, but it certainly can be shocking with the intense detail of some of his female conquests.


This is a perfect example of when a film's visual effects far outpace the screenplay.  The DVD container emphasizes in large font that the visual effects are from the same guys who worked on Avatar, Iron Man 2, and 300!  What the container does not say is that the screenwriters from those films did not work on Skyline.  Aliens descend from the sky and everything which occurs afterwards, the audience sees from the perspective of a particular group of people trapped in a Los Angeles penthouse.  Why this group?  Aliens are everywhere and we have to see the events through the eyes of people we cannot stand?  The characters are one-dimensional and very obnoxious for most of the time. 

Why did they waste what must have been an enormous visual effects budget on a story which appears to still be in draft form?  Did the producers feel the story in Avatar or District 9 was too complicated?  Stay away from this movie!

P.S.  The Air Force goes up against the aliens at points and I hope they were using some top secret drones; otherwise, those were B-2s pulling 9 G's and outmaneuvering enemy fighters.  Also, an F-22 crashes and 'bounces' right over the main characters.  *smacks forehead*