It was a classic day in San Diego today. It started with a breakfast right at the Ocean Beach Pier and a meet-up with an old high school friend. Returning to the US after eight years abroad is a great excuse to renew lots of old friendships.
The itinerary for the day was a hike on the beaches of Sunset Cliffs. It’s the middle of February and in San Diego, the sky could not have been more blue and the temperatures more suitable. I’m not sure where else you can get an 80℉ day in winter!
The hike, to my surprise, included a wade through very winter-like ocean waters. Well worth it for the views and the secluded beaches. Even the surfers were hard to find.
What better way to finish the day then with a San Diego and Ocean Beach tradition – Hodad’s. The Cheeseburger and Frings (with a beer of course) perfectly hit the spot! Frings were served in a huge portion which even two sun-drenched, hungry hikers couldn’t finish.
For native San Diegans, Hodad’s is probably a no-brainer. You want a good burger, go to Hodad’s. But to the tourist, the atmosphere of Hodad’s really captures the SoCal beach spirit with the No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem policy and a decor of surfboard and license plates. Located so close to the OB Pier also helps for those taking in a San Diego beach tour.
One of the things I loved the most about the visit though? Our waiter. He looked all of 25, but perhaps the San Diego lifestyle had helped prevent any wrinkles – he’s worked at Hodad’s for 11 years. That almost says more than the delicious burgers.
Likes: beach location and spirit, bodacious burgers
Dislikes: Numerous napkins needed, line outside the door doesn’t make you want to hang out longer than what is deemed cool by the locals.
Hodad’s is located at:
5010 Newport Avenue
San Diego, 92107
p.s. Here’s a photo of me on that hike…shirt drenched from wading in the freezing ocean!
Today was Hollywood Day for my friend visiting from Vietnam. Black Swan was a clear choice for us both as we both adore Natalie Portman. I was also curious to view Darren Aronofsky’s work, since I had met and known him briefly when I worked at the American Film Institute.
The film has already received great reviews, awards and Oscar nominations; I wanted to see if it lived up to the hype.
My first words when the film ended were, “Bravo, Darren. Well done.” I’m not sure there was anything about this movie I didn’t like. Natalie turned in a wonderful, magnetic performance and the story was rock-solid, sucking me into the dancer’s dramatic world and character Nina’s twisted soul.
I loved the camera work and unique close-up angles, plus the hard-to-get shots in a room full of mirrors as Nina twirled and spun in practice. Sound effects with her breathing and beating heart, were all soft undertones which helped heighten the drama.
Under Darren’s direction, Natalie Portman shined, as did the supporting cast. Winona Ryder, while only briefly on screen gave a spot-on performance. Barbara Hershey expertly played the over-protective and smothering stage mother, a dancer in her own right, well past her prime and clinging to her own dreams through the life of her daughter.
The story is centered in Nina’s quest for perfection (with her mother’s persistence) and the torture and mental anguish perfection dishes out when one tries to achieve it. Nina sums up the entire production in her last line in the film “I was perfect.” And Black Swan was perfection, indeed.
After just writing about the fact that I haven’t been to a movie for ages, I went last night to see Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception. I was out an about Hanoi yesterday with my good friend Pete. We tired to squeeze as much into our Saturday as we could. After I finished my half day of work (seriously – should be a crime to work on Saturdays), we went and bought out movie tickets and then did a little shopping. I was happy to find and purchase a new phone, getting up to speed with the iPhone 3Gs (the 4G is over $1000 -can’t do). It was about time I had a proper phone! This is my first iPhone and within minutes, I was in love.
By the time I made my first test call to Pete, it was about 2:30pm and so we walked to his favorite place, The Metropole. High Tea starts at 3:00pm and so we opted to enjoy the occasion. I was sold the minute I learned there was a chocolate buffet. But you can read about that HERE.
By the time we finished tea and goofing around with our iGadgets (we tend to play any number of games of Angry Birds on his iPad), it was time to head to the theater. Movie tickets in Vietnam are cheap, thanks goodness. And with just 70,000VND comes your selection of seats. I like this concept tremendously.
Neither Pete nor I had read any reviews or even the plot or concept of the film. All we knew was that it was a thriller. Imagine my surprise when the film began in Japan and Ken Watanabe came on the screen. Woo hoo! So I sat back and relaxed and was willing to let this movie take me for a ride.
Let me just say that I like movies that mess with your head a little bit. I loved Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I even loved a much less noticed What Dreams May Come. When I was a kid, Nightmare on Elm Street scared the bejeebers out of me so much, I was afraid to go to sleep for a few nights for fear that what might happen in my dreams would happen in real life. That spurred many “Have you ever died in your dreams?” conversations with my schoolmates. So at the movies, I am more than happy to surrender reality and let my mind wander into new territory. It is fun and that’s what we go to the movies for…to be told a story and enter a parallel world for a few hours.
Inception was great in concept, but the execution of the plot fell way short of good. There was not a significant enough reason to actually commit “inception.” Some of the sequences were long and tedious…that white van falling, Cobb spending so much valuable time saying goodbye to his wife, and while a cool visual, the zero-gravity kick preparation. And the ending? Give me a break. Without ruining it for those who haven’t seen it…can we get a little more original?
So at the end of the day, films like Usual Suspects or Seven (both of which coincidentally star Kevin Spacey…hmm…), Memento, or even classics like Vertigo, are far better at making me think about the movie long after I’ve left the theater. Even Ocean’s 11 and 13 were a little more witty and clever.
The sad thing about a movie like this that it has such great potential with a fabulous cast, great art direction, visual effects and a relatively unique concept. But instead of staying intelligent, it looses its way with unnecessary violence, James Bond-esque stunt scenes and a sub plot that doesn’t truly enhance the main theme.
Am I glad I saw it? Of course. I was happy to go to the movies and see a film like that on the big screen. But it is one that I do not plan to add to my DVD collection once it’s in the shops here. Once was enough for me.