Archive for the “Southern California” Category

You are looking at the entrance of Cinepolis, a luxury cinema located in Southern California. I love the idea, but the execution didn’t quite work out when I went. So although I thought it to be a pretty cool concept on paper, this will be a generally poor review.

Jen took me to see Crazy Stupid Love. Great movie.

The good:

I went not knowing what to expect. First of all, I must say that I was very pleasantly surprised when presented with the price of admission. One ticket was $20. Sure, it’s more expensive than a movie in an average movie theater. But upon entering the theater, it is easy to understand why.

I always thought of getting a good seat in a movie theater is a lot like getting a good seat on an airplane. You don’t want anyone sitting next to you so you have full access to both armrests. You don’t want anyone behind you to prevent the seat back kicking, and you definitely don’t want anyone in front of you so you can put your feet up. Although cushioned, usually the chair isn’t very comfortable, also very airplane-like.

But Cinepolis certainly has a leg up on your ordinary movie theater. The chairs are set up in pairs with a small table in between. The table has a lamp that is very dim during the movie, enough to give you a little bit of light, but low enough to cause no distraction during the movie. The chair, a soft leather, plush, extremely comfortable recliner. There are 3 buttons on each chair. The 1st raises the footrest, the 2nd reclines the back and slides the entire thing forward slightly, and the 3rd is a call bell for your own personal butler. Yes, I am 100% serious.

Get there early enough to place an order before the movie (and make a reservation to make sure you have your seat). Yes, the menu has the standard gourmet popcorn. But you can also get drinks (beer, mixed, or even a full bottle of wine), dinner (sushi, kobe sliders, etc), and deserts. You ring the call button that is a silent alarm that notifies a waiter outside the theater that you need something. They creep up, take your order, and come back with your goods.

This, however, brings me to…

The bad:

The service is AWFUL. Jen and I ordered drinks before the theater even came close to filling up, and before the previews started. We wanted a little quench before we ordered more from the menu. Others around us were being served full meals, bottles of wine, and our drinks hadn’t arrived yet. We figured they were busy, so opted to wait it out. Still no drinks. We were going to order snacks, more drinks, and a desert, but instead just watched the movie without a single nod from our server. So we just enjoyed the movie, and chalked it up to chance that we were completely ignored.

After the movie, you bet we talked to the manager. He came over, and we asked for a refund on the purchase of our drinks. Yeah our butler had a thing to swipe your card as you place your order, as policy for Cinepolis. So as he was leaving to hit the register with my refund, I told him that I also wrote in a tip. The manager, obviously a nimwit, asked if I wanted that back too.

Let that soak in. Do I want my tip back for my drinks that never came…

I said… duh’of course!

So he brought back my receipt for the refund to my card, along with a few dollars for my tip. I told him that he didn’t need to give me cash out of the register, just make sure the tip doesn’t get charged from my card. He said ok, and we went on our merry way. I was hoping for an apology, maybe a next time is on us offer, but nothing. Oh well.

A few days later I checked my bank statement, and you guessed it, the waiter took my god-damn tip.

So the idea is a great one, one that I would probably utilize more than a standard movie theater, but it is very poorly executed. I’m sure they will do well, but as a service oriented business, they need to educate themselves. Go there if you’d like, but chances are you won’t see me there.

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I am convinced that the most passive griffiti art in the world lives in rich beach communities.

Don’t make me say it again. Charlie don’t surf.

The town of Encinitas has their panties in a bunch because of a beautiful piece of street art that is found under a bridge about 100 yards from the beach. It is a mosaic of a surfing Madonna. Not the material girl. Decide for yourself if stakeholders of Encinitas are using my tax money for a good cause. Hold meetings, debate on the subject, spend time and money deciding whether or not this art is offensive, then pay city workers to tear it down. I don’t know, or just thank the unknown artist for adding a splash of beauty under a dirty bridge.

click to enlarge

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Jen and I went to the Del Mar Fair this year. We rode our bikes the 3 miles bike to Del Mar Fairgrounds because it would save us the $20 parking fee. The Del Mar Fair is a huge event here in Southern California, and people from all over come to see it. There are rides from the standard ferris wheel, to some bungee contraption, to a spinning something, to an actual roller coaster. Some of my readers remember the Midway Carnival with small rides, games to win crappy prizes, and unhealthy food (funnel cake). Imagine the Midway, but big enough to entertain all of Philadelphia and you have the Del Mar Fair.

There are plenty of games where you can win prizes that you do not need. Do you remember my life-sized Spiderman? Yeah, I won that at the fair a few years ago for throwing 3 baseballs and breaking 3 beer bottles consecutively. Thanks for the training, Bulldogs!

There are farm animals that you can watch sleep. Exciting, I know!

There are art exhibits, wood sculptures, and artisan booths to buy little trinkets.

There is also a few bands that are playing in different areas. The big one when Jen and I went was The Beach Boys. It was cool to see them, and cooler to see them in Southern California, but it was also a reminder that these guys are old. I prefer to imagine them forever young, meant to spin on a record player than to see live in concert.

And, there is food so unhealthy that no one should ever eat. Sure they have the standard meats, street tacos, gyro’s, and funnel cake. That’s not what I’m talking about. They invent foods, mostly deep fried, for the adventurous eaters out there. They have deep fried twinkies, and new this year was deep fried kool-aid. The photo below advertises things like chocolate covered bacon, chocolate covered corn dogs, deep fried beer battered bacon with ranch & BBQ, deep fried cheese quesadilla strips, and perhaps the piece de resistance this year was the deep fried butter. What they called the coronary combo was deep fried butter with chocolate covered bacon. Yum!

Next time you plan a trip to San Diego, you should schedule it from June 10th to July 4th. You might be able to take home a pacemaker as a souvenir!

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It’s a little late, 4 months, but I figured I could at least share a little of what my hometown of Cardiff By The Sea has to offer. I live across the street from a preserve, a lagoon, a little bit of nature, and it has a great hiking trail weaving it’s way through. Jen and I use it often. One of those times was about an hour or two that I had to spend Valentine’s Day with her before she had to go to work the graveyard shift at the hospital. It’s so peaceful and full of ducks, cranes, fish, and I’m sure many other things that have yet to reveal themselves. Going for a short hike through the lagoon is a great way to unwind, and I’m sure we will have many memories of living in Cardiff because of it.

We are a good looking couple, aren’t we?

Now send this to 37 of your friends or you will have bad luck for the rest of your life.

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Every time I walk into town from my house in Cardiff By The Sea, my route takes me past a car, a Mazdaspeed 3. It is always sitting there on the side of the road, and I admire it as I walk by. It looks sporty, has great lines, dual exhaust, a nice simple rear spoiler, simple ground effects, and a air intake scoop on the hood. It’s just a all-around nice looking car.

My Maxima has been a good car. I took it to get “smogged” to find out that it will fail the test. It is the same thing as getting your car inspected in PA, where the main goal is to make sure your car is not passing gas that will be harmful to the planet. I get that. But my car has clean emissions, but still fails the test out here in California because it needs about $650 in sensors to tell me that it is clean. And on top of that, my Maxima has a newly oxidizing hood, a shredded front seat, needs a few parts & repairs to keep from leaking power steering fluid, new tires, brakes, and the cherry on top is that it needs at least one of it’s catalytic converters replaced, probably 2, or possibly all 3. I felt like I’ve put enough money into the vehicle, and perhaps it was time to put the 194,000 car in a rest home.

So I did some research on Wednesday, went to a couple dealerships on Thursday, and took my first real look at the Mazdaspeed 3 on Friday. It’s a hot car, but I wouldn’t dare tell the car dealer. Thanks to my dad, or at least my stubborn attitude, I was able to walk away multiple times, work dealers against each other (or so he thought), and get the best possible price on the vehicle on Sunday. It’s my first new car. 58 miles and counting…

So here’s my new toy, on a bluff in Cardiff over-looking the pacific of course.

(you can click on this one if you’d like)

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On my way home yesterday I decided to stop at the local liquor store in Cardiff to pick up a bottle of wine or two to share with some friends that are staying with us. I picked out two bottles, quickly peeking to make sure the prices that are within my range. I step to the register, hand over my debit card, and sign for the purchase. The cashier noted one of the bottles, and said, “wow, this is a really good bottle of wine, nice choice.” I responded with a mumble, not thinking much of it. It wasn’t until the short ride home that I noticed the receipt for the transaction was over 80 dollars. Good lord, I just purchased a $59.99 bottle of wine!

When I glanced at the price in the store, I thought it read $9.99. I usually buy wines that are from Napa Valley or another California wine because they are generally within my price range of 10-20 bucks. I don’t know much about wine, and can’t really tell them apart other than when one is red, and another is white. Sure, I could have gone back to the little liquor store to return the bottle, but figured that I would at least try a good wine once in my life. This way I could justify all my future wine purchases of under $20 with the known fact that they are no better than a more expensive bottle.

Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The $59.99 bottle of wine was far better than the second $12.99 bottle. It was smooth, dry, with hints of coffee and tobacco that complimented the berries beautifully. You could also taste and see it coming out of a carefully crafted wine barrel, which made the experience even more romantic. Which brings the most important part of buying a more expensive bottle, the experience. Drinking a really good bottle (or at least a better than average one) would not have had such an impact if I had done it alone. But it became an event that will be remembered by sharing it with others. Even though the four of us just hung out in the kitchen, talking about whatever we were talking about, the moment will live on much longer because it will be that time that we shared a good bottle of wine.

I’ll stick to my cheap wine most of the time, but may turn to the good stuff to compliment a special occasion once in a while. Here’s to good company, ching-ching.

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I’ve heard the screaming crowds demanding to see a little slice of my life in our new Cardiff By The Sea home in Cardiff Cove. Please try to contain yourself while scrolling through the pictures. Yes, it is as exciting and beautiful as you have imagined. Jen and I are loving life to the fullest extent at every turn. I’m pleased to present a few pictures of home in Cardiff:

Observe the end unit of our outside…

The outside.

Observe the neighborhood looking out at the lagoon…

The lagoon.

Observe the kitchen…

The kitchen.

Observe the living room…

The living room.

Observe the nook under the stairs…

The nook.

These pictures were taken on the second day of living in our new home. Although many things look as you see them, many things look very different. We have a great little backyard with comfy furniture & a fire pit, much more “stuff” on the walls, and a great spot to work on projects in the garage. But these were the pictures that I had on my phone, so this is what you get. If you are interested to see “where the magic happens,” or any other rooms, I’ll send them along too. Just let me know, you pervert.

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Life has been jam packed full of flavor for the past 2 months. For the past month, most of my efforts outside of work have been concentrated on securing a new ideal apartment, packing and unpacking my things, and enjoying all the flavors that a new chapter of my life can present. Jen and I have moved in together, back to beach living, and I can’t tell you how excited I am.

Wait. Yes I can. I’m really excited.

The new apartment is set up like a condo. It is in a small beach community in Cardiff By The Sea, California, and has an ocean view, about 1,400 square feet, 2 stories, a garage, little backyard perfect for barbeques, huge kitchen, 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, washer & drier, cathedral ceilings in both bedrooms with windows that takes up an entire wall, as well as a pool and hot tub on site. Normally, all these kinds of amenities do not exist this close to the beach, and they definitely don’t exist for the price we are paying. We really lucked out.

After the first month living in our new home, we have made it very comfortable. Hopefully the big purchases are dwindling down, and we can relax and enjoy what we have worked hard to create for ourselves. I picked up a nice new Weber gas grill, and we bought a king-sized bed to share with Jen and her little dog. What more can you ask for?

So now that things are a bit more relaxed, I should be able to get back to the story-telling. Thanks for staying in touch.

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