Friday, December 15, 2006

Farm 255

This downtown restaurant located next to Clocked, is devoted to organic locally grown foods. It also hosts a number of musical acts during the week and on weekends. It is definitely one of the more upscale restaurants in town, but from what I can tell, it is definitely worth the price. The menu changes frequently because it relies on what is currently available so you never know what you may end up finding. One drawback I found (besides the price) was that they didn't have very many vegetarian options. You would think that being an organic place they would want to cater more to this type of crowd, but apparently they did not.

They also have a large bar, where they serve everything from the most exotic wines and liquors to the cheapest beers. After 11 on the weekends, they stop serving food and bring in different bands and musicians that you can see for free. When I went friday night Gabriel Kelley was playing. I have reviewed them before, and other than saying that they were excellent, I don't have a lot to say about that. I would like to say that it's nice to see how they've grown over the years, particularly the front man, Gabe. One of my earliest memories of Gabe was him at our house at one of our infamous middle school parties (they were awful) attempting to teach my brother a few chords (he was awful and still is) but Gabe was pretty good for a 14 year old kid.

The atmosphere was pretty nice. It was still pretty casual despite the upscale menu. The setup was nice for a band with plenty of chairs and tables and a well stocked bar. The acoustics were excellent as well. Not only were we able to hear them with a minimum of effort, despite the occasionally loud crowd, but well talking to the band they mentioned that this was one of the few venues in which they were able to hear each other.

The Farm is a great place to take a date or your parents for some excellent food or some great music. If you're earth/health conscious or just bohemian chic and you're looking to impresses the Farm is the place to be for great food, great music, great drinks, and a good time.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Last Resort Grill

The Last Resort Grill is a popular upscale restaurant downtown. It has a rather limited and somewhat pricey menu (about $20-30), but the food is excellent. I'm not really a big fan of the atmosphere, but its not that much different from most other upscale restaurants. I do always appreciate real napkins and glasses as opposed to paper or plastic ones, so that is nice.

They have some excellent vegetarian options, particularly a nice grilled vegetable pasta primavera with a creamy tomato sauce. It was perfect. They also have a rather interesting item called the vegetable patch. The bread is excellent as well, and is made right on the premises.
They also have number of excellent meat dishes as well including a New South Pork Loin.

They serve brunch on Sunday's and lunch during the week. The menu has stayed the same for most of the time they have been in business, and it works well.

I recomend this place if you are looking for someplace nice to take your date or your parents and you don't want to drive all the way to Atlanta.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Normally I'm not terribly impressed by old scifi movies (with the possible exception of making fun of them with friends on lazy days) but I'm glad I finally got around to watching this one. It's an excellent early sci-fi movie about what happens when an alien lands in Washington DC. But unlike other sci-fi movies of the time it's not a shoot 'em up invasion type movie like Independance Day or War of the Worlds. Instead a mostly peaceful humanoid creature brings an important message about peace.
The movie while brilliantly written does have some flaws. In the first place it can be rather slow at times. Although for fans of classic movies, this might be a good thing. The acting is also a little wooden at times, although not so much that the movie feels contrived. And of course the movie is a little archaic and not exactly "new" although the idea was pretty original for its time.
One thing I especially liked about this movie was its excellent portrayal of the politics and beauracracy of the American Government and the short falls in world politics and the U.N. It also did a great job of exploring the xenophobia and fear of the american public when faced with such a visitor.
I would highly recommend this movie especially if you are a fan of sci-fi or just old classic movies in general.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Saturday December 2nd

Town and Gown's Second Stage Production of My Blue Angel

This production was written by local playwright Rex Toddy and was adapted from the book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon . Many of the same group of people in this play will be involved in a new theater group, Stray Productions, whose' s inaugural performance will be Arrogant Coyotes running March 23rd, 24th , 30th and 31st 2007.

I really hate to rag on any theater production in the classic city particularly one put together by such a talented group of people, but I have to say that I did not truly like this particular production. Maybe because it was a staged reading, which gave it the impression of being hastily put together and half done or maybe it was the subject matter ( a autistic boy retelling his story of a dog murder and the results of the investigation he does) or maybe it was the droning monotonous delivery of the main character. Whatever it was I was as impressed as I hoped to be.

With that said, "My Blue Angel" had its good points (other than the fact that it was only a $5 ticket). The plot was certainly captivating and exciting. The main character, who had Asperger's syndrome, while perhaps somewhat dull and monotone, was definitely a unique and very different character.

Also they did an excellent job with staging and characterization. Although "My Blue Angel" was
a staged reading, which means the actors had the scripts in there hands and there wasn't much action, the director, Catherine Clayton, did an excellent job of blocking the scenes that did allow for movement. The characterization was excellent. Both the boys playing Christopher (at age 15 Jameson Toddy, and at 17 Charlie Harper) were very authentic in there portrayals of a boy with Asperger's syndrome. There were two actors who each portrayed a verity of characters (Guy McCommons and Allan Aycock) and did an excellent job distinguishing the differences between them without use of costumes and very few props. My Blue Angel also feature Bryn Admonson as Mrs. Boone, Charlie's mother and Allen Rowell as Mr. Boone, Charlie's father.

Although I was not as impressed with this play as I could have been, it interested me enough to want to read the book and to see further productions by this group.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Caldonia Lounge (November, 17th 2006)

While local favorite Now It's Overhead was obviously the highlight of the nights show, the two opening acts were very entertaining as well. They Sang as They Slew, the opening band was my second favorite of the night. The second opening band, Psychic Hearts, put on an impressive show as well.

They Sang as They Slew is a Christian punk/indie rock band from Taccoa, Ga. Normally I'm not impressed by Christian acts at all. They have a tendency to either pay too much attention to their message and none to the music (thereby alienating the fans they might otherwise reach out to) or ignore the message and focus on the music, making them Christian in name only. TSATS did neither. While I honestly didn't even know that they were a Christian band until after they show while looking at their myspace page upon a closer listening to their lyrics I can hear the connection.

TSATS, put on an impressive show for four guys from Taccoa. They rocked hard leaving everyone satisfied. Although they didn't exactly make us hunger for more, they didn't leave us exactly malnourished either. The only complaint I had was that they could have possibly used a better singer, especially considering the level of technical difficulty (vocally) on some of the songs. Maybe he was just having an off day.

Psychic Hearts was also a very talented band, although not nearly as loud or fast. They seemed to fall more into the seemingly supersatured market of emo bands that don't like you. Considering the fact that both radio stations like 99x and 105.3 as well as TV's the Fuse are over saturated with bands like these (Fallout Boy, Ok Go, Jet), the 45 minutes it took them to set up was not worth the wait. The only thing that kept me from leaving was knowing that Now It's Overhead was next, even just to see if they lived up to all the hype.

That said there were two things that made this band worth while. The keyboardist was a chick. As sexist or whatever that may sound, this was important to me for several reasons. First of all as a female vocalist, there just aren't that many other female rockers and its always nice to see one. Think about it, other than Courtney Love (Hole) who nobody takes seriously, Gwen Stefani (No Doubt) and those chicks from Garbage (What were their names? I know, but do you?), how many can you think of? Plus the show was visually exciting. Not only did the have some interesting lighting which gave the impression of a strobe light, their wild jerking movements added to the effect (trust me, this was good thing).

Now it's Overhead was definitely worth waiting for. They had just gotten back from a somewhat lengthy tour and it was the first show they had played on their home turf in some time. This is a band that certainly translates well when it comes to recordings, but of course is much better seen live. The set was both pleasing to the ears and mesmerizing visually. I remember watching Andy LeMaster roll his sleeves up every time he put his guitar down to sing and rolling them back down again when he picked his guitar back up. While this was obviously not an important element it says something of his showmanship in the way he made it a part of their show. Above all if you have not seem them live I encourage you to check out Now It's Overhead or at least check out some of their songs at their website or myspace page. And if you like maybe even buy an album, or two.

Friday, November 17, 2006

House of Blue Leaves (John Guare)

This very entertaining play (Written by John Guare) has quickly become my favorite. It has a rather unusual plot. It concerns a zookeeper -songwriter who's household hurls into chaos on the day that the pope comes to New York. This highly entertaining and engaging dark comical satire on relationships takes place in the top floor apartment in a Brooklyn apartment in the 1960's.
One of my favorite aspects of this play is the characters very interesting tendency to break the fourth wall and address the audience with their thoughts, views, opinions and innermost feelings.

Town and Gown did a wonderful job with the set, casting, and directing (Amy Wright). Some notable performances where the little nun (Katie Dotson), Ronnie Shaughnessy (Zach Goulet), and the zookeeper/songwriter, Artie Shaunessy (Micheal Brogdon). If you haven't had a chance to catch this play there are two performances remaining 8 pm Saturday Nov, 18 ($12 students/seniors, $15 general) and 2 pm Sunday November 19th ($5). For more information visit town and gown or Theater Notes in Flagpole magazine.
(This is a blurb - a full review will be posted shortly).

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

The Flats

The Flats is an independent movie starring Chad Lindberg (October Sky), one of my favorite actors. It is a "coming of age" story about a young man who returns home to go to court and finds out he must report to a work farm in 8 days. This film easily could have been some sappy stupid story about how some drunken idiot turns his life around. Instead it was a very good realistic movie about how Harper spends the next few days of his life and the choices he makes, as well as the very real struggles the other characters go through.

What I loved about this movie is that these characters were very realistic. They could have easily been people I knew. For example it was easy to believe that Luke, Harper's best friend, was reluctant to introduce his new girlfriend to his parents because they were very conservative and he did not know how to deal with that.

Many times filmmakers portray characters as black and white instead of being well rounded. This was not the case with the brothers Kelly and Tyler Requa, were not afraid to show the gritty and sometimes upsetting side of the characters as well as the good aspects of their personality. Harper may be a drunken womanizer causing fights, and sometimes unable to remember the women he has spent time with, but he is also a good friend, putting others before him self for the good of the group. This is the case with Tully and Mark whose dispute he resolves (at the expense of his own good time) in order to ease the tension and repair friendships.

I highly recommend this hard to find and excellent movie by the brothers Requa. It is being shown on IFC (the Independent Film Channel) or if you don't get IFC you can order it from Indie Flicks, a new web based movie store featuring independent films.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Bluebird Cafe

Bluebird Cafe is a small vegetarian restaurant, that serves the best breakfast in the city. I can't vouch for lunch or dinner (which focuses on Indian food), as I've never had it, but I'm told its excellent as well. Although maybe not the best in the city. But breakfast is suburb.

They serve mostly omelets, but they do have a few egg less options as well, particularly the tofu scramble. But the German pancakes are divine. They are particular good with walnuts and bananas. They really don't need syrup either, but they can come with it.

The omelets are good too. They have a Mexican omelet with beans that is surprisingly good. All the omelets come with either whole wheat toast or whole wheat biscuits. The biscuits are actually quite good. They also have their own brand of coffee, which is pretty decent. Bluebird also serves very excellent quiches, which are large enough portions to make a meal themselves.

On the weekends,(particularly Sunday morning) Bluebird Cafe is pretty crowded and the service is slower. But it's still worth it. You might have to wait a while for a table, but not more than 15 or 20 minutes.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

John Water's Cry-baby

Cry- baby (1990) is a spoof of 50’s teeny bopper musicals. It was conceived, written and directed by that twisted mind of a genius, John Waters, known for movies like Hairspray, and Serial Mom. Like most of his movies, this movie is highly stylized (think 50’s tv show’s Leave it to Beaver and that one with Mayberry and the sherriff). Cry-baby features a multitude of twisted and disturbed archetypal yet quirky characters. This movie has a rather simple plot, boy meets girl, boy can’t have girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back. But it still has a special little shine that makes it worth watching. Aside from the constant onslaught of 50’s music and the detailed period costumes and settings, the one thing that really carries this movie is the satire and gross (although mostly not in a vulgar sense) that is characteristic of John Waters.

The movie features a number of diverse characters, in particular Cry-baby (Johnny Depp) and Allison (Amy Locane). Crybaby, a charactature of a young Elvis, is a juvenile delinquent from the local trailer park (Turkey Point), whose parents were executed (he even has a tattoo of a electric chair). He leads a gang called the Drapes, and his inbred family consists of such quirky charters as grandma and her husband uncle Belvedere (Iggy Pop, also an excellent punk rocker). Allison , on the other hand is a sweet girl with a “good” boyfriend, Baldwin (Steven Mailer), whose Grandmother (Polly Bergen) is “the role model for all squares everywhere”. Both are orphans, which is one item that bonds the two characters.

There are a number of other supporting characters that are notable. Look for Ricky Lake as the young pregnant mother of two comically cute adult-like kids (Jessica Raskin and Jonathan Benya), T as the father of Hatchet Face (Kim McGuire), a rather ugly member of Cry-baby’s gang, and Tracy Lords (attempting to start a legitimate acting career) as another member of the Drapes. Another interesting character, a foreign exchanged student from the Netherlands, appears in a funny scene between Traci Lord’s character and her idiot “hip”, “enlightened” parents (Patricia Herst and David Nelson).

The plot of the movie follows Cry-baby's pursuit of Allison, and his arrest and release. It seems to be secondary, to the action, comedy, and musice of the movie. In the begining of the movie Alison's gradmother is holding a singing contest. Allison's boyfriend sings "Life would be a dream", followed by Alison her self who sings "Teenage prayer". On the other side of town the Rickets are having thier own show out at Turkey Point. Cry-baby sings an Elivis style song. All the music is lip-synched which is obvious after watching the end of bunny hop sequence in front of Allisons house.

There's a lot of symbolism and classic 50's elements in this movie. In one of the opening scenes an air raid siren sounds and the squares all hide under tables until the all clear. The rickets represent the bad side of town. They are lusty inbread white trailer trash who wear leather jackets and ride motorcyles and like to fight. In contrast, Allison's group, the squares are almost a sexual well bred society types. The Rickets dance the jitterbug infront of a confederate flag with negros, while the squares go to singing contest in a house that looks like a church. One of the most pivital scenes is fight between the Rickets and the squares. It's this duality that makes the film so endering.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Grit

The Grit is one of my favorite Athens restaurants. Although not what converted me to vegetarianism, (yeah I will admit it is kind of like a religion), it’s the kind of place that routinely satisfies hard core meat lovers. As to what actually made me go veggie I would attribute that to the fact that when cooked right morning star farms chicken nuggets taste better than the real thing, and not wanting to eat the horrible dry chicken at place near Disney. Of course that’s not why I still am, and no I’m not going to go into that here, but if you ask I will certainly tell you as little or as much as you want to know.

One of the more interesting things about this restaurant is how accessible it is. In fact it’s so accessible that they released a best-selling cookbook that gave away most of their secrets. It didn’t seem to hurt business (it actually seemed to help), so obviously there is more to the Grit than just the sum of the ingredients.

Probably the most famous item on the menu is the Golden Bowl, and while it’s a great introduction to tofu its not the only item on the menu. One of the features is that the Grit has a large selection of rotating items in addition to the special of the day. They always have about 10-15 different vegetables of the day, which can be combined to make a meal by itself. Personally, I think they have the best mac n’ cheese ever, and I order it every time its on the menu. You should also vegetable samosas, and they have excellent split pea dahl. They have a Mid-eastern sampler that’s worth a try too. Recently they added a ruben sandwhich, and while it may not taste exactly like the real thing its close enough and good enough not to really matter. They have specials worth looking for like their chili cheese dogs and lasagna with feta cheese. Most everything on the menu is great. I can‘t think of anything that I would stay away from. At one point I went there so frequently I could recite the menu, but since moving out of town for a while and having to learn how to cook and then moving back incredibly broke, it is a minor regret of mine that this is no longer the case. They also have great desserts - -some of which are vegan (for those of you into that kind of thing). You can also order teas, coffee, sodas, and beer.

The Grit is somewhat of a cult phenomenon. It’s particularly famous with indie rock set and other artists. Many of the more "famous" ones either work their now or have worked there in the past. The Grit is frequently crowded, but not too crowded. On weeknights its pretty busy, but there usually isn't a wait.

The atmosphere is very bohemian chic. There’s always art on walls, but it’s never the same for long. None of the plates, tables and chairs, ect. match which gives the place the feel that it was decorated from thrift store buys (and according to this article in the Flagpole it was!). The Grit was one the first local places to have unisex bathrooms (two of them). The music is nice -mostly indie rock. It used to be really quiet, but they seem to have fixed that problem. At night the light is too low for my taste. Actually, those last two things might be the real reason why I don’t go there very much. Plus, I live with an obsessive-compulsive carnivore that really hates same sex bathrooms.

Whether or not you like the atmosphere, the Grit is certainly worth checking out. If you haven’t tried it yet I highly recommend it. If your veggie or vegan I‘m sure you‘ll find something to awe over, and if not maybe you find that being one doesn’t always have to be as bad as it looks.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Saving Grace (and Gabriel Kelley)

Saving Grace is the name of a very good gourmet restaurant in Comer, GA (yes they have a restruant in Comer!!!). It also the name of a song by a very good and very promising local act currently going by the name of Gabriel Kelley. Members of Gabriel Kelley frequently play acoustic sets at the restaurant. I don't know if this was planned or some kind of happy accident. I do know that the song has been around longer than the restaurant, so the band did not name the song after it.

Saving Grace is a fairly new restaurant. I belive it opened sometime this past summer. They do not have an alcohol liscense yet, but you may bring in your own beer or wine. They have an excellent menu featuring fresh produce which I have been told comes mostly from the Comer Farmers Market (located next door). They serve a veriety of food including a vegitarian fare at reasonable prices ($8-15). They also serve coffee and excellent desserts. I had the spinach lasagne and the green beans, both were excellently prepared using fresh ingredents and just the right spices. The only complaint I had was that they did not serve bread, but the food was so good I did not miss it. As I mentioned they also serve coffee and excellent desserts. I had a carmel cake which may now be my new favorite. It was indescribably deliscious, especially with coffee.

Gabriel Kelley played two acoustic sets while we enjoyed our meal. I have to say I've enjoyed watching Gabe and his sound mature over the years. We got a special treat as Gabe's mom joined them on her mandolin at the beginging of the first set in the cover of a folk song. As you may or may not know Gabe got his start a young age playing at picking parties and the Hoot with the Athens Folk Music and Dance Society. They also played several originals, including the aformentioned "Saving Grace" "Daisies" and "Breathe". They bill them selves as a country/folk/pop group but I encourage you to decide for yourself how to catagorize them. Or you could forget about labels and listen to them either at thier website or (the better choice) live.
Gabriel Kelley will be playing two shows in the athens area next week. Tuesday night (October 17th) they will be at the Mercury Lounge and Thursday (October 19th) they will be the opening act at the Flicker Theater and Bar. I am interested in finding out what they sound like as a full band and plan on checking them out.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

I'm Back!!!

Will be posting soon. Check back for updates.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Casino Royale

I finally saw this movie on what appears to be the last day it is showing in Athens on the big screen. Not because I didn't want to see it.. but because scrapping up the money and the cars and the gas to actually go see a movie seems to be a big ordeal for me (but I have no problem spending upwards of $12 on beverages or a crappy band.. or lousy live theater- not that they're isn't plenty of good music, theater, and free food and beverages to be had in this town or that I don't like movies- but ... anyway). It's actually the first movie I've seen in the actual movie theater since last July, but 14 of those months don't count because I wasn't anywhere near a movie theater so that should give you some idea of how badly I actually wanted to see this movie.
Casino Royale certainly lived up to my expectations. It's certainly a very different bond movie, at least plot and character wise, but it still has all the elements you would normally expect in a Bond movie. Wild chases, stunning effects, death defying stunts, spectacular kills, "the Bond girls", M, mad villains, an amazing soundtrack (featuring Chris Cornell- from Soundgarden and Audioslave)...with a few minor changes.
One of the things you frequently hear about Casino Royale is that it showcases a more human side of Bond. While I wouldn't entirely disagree, I would say that in other Bond films we see a more detached, cynical 007. In Casino Royale, Daniel Craig, portrays a Bond who is still quite naive and we are able to see why and how he became the stoic cynical womanizer and killing machine we all know him as.
One of my favorite things about this movie was that the beginning, before he becomes a double-o, is filmed in black in white. Originally I felt, that it would have been more appropriate to film the rest of the movie in black in white, and the beginning in color (because of the emotional difficulty and change he goes through), but I realized that it is not until after he becomes a double-o that Bond becomes who he truly is.

I highly recommend this movie and will probably see it many more times. It has quickly become my second favorite Bond movie (the living daylights being my favorite), and definitely not worth missing.