Monthly Archives: August 2008

D’oh

Sorry for the lack of anything resembling an update around here. As I’ve mentioned previously, I have some personal issues that need to be resolved before I can resume normal, happy fun time blogging. I should have a restaurant review up tomorrow, and our usual Webcomic Wednesday post. I know it’s poor form to have my life interfere with blogging so early in the game, but that’s just how it is, folks. It’s not like I get paid for this.

But, as a show of good faith, I present you with one of my new favorite blogs: Springfield Punx, which will entertain and amuse you with its re-telling of some of our favorite characters in Simpsons style:

See?  I still love you.

–DB

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Webcomic Wednesday: Questionable Content

Hey gang, sorry about the lack of a post yesterday, some personal stuff got in the way of me being a functional blogger. I know, people on the internet have lives, it’s amazing.

Today’s round of Webcomic Wednesday is going to be kind of a no-brainer since my brain is still a wee bit scrambled by the aforementioned personal stuff. But hey, thems the breaks.

If you aren’t reading Questionable Content by Jeph Jacques, then we can’t be friends. Well, I may be willing to make an exception if you go to the link now and start reading. But hurry up.

In all seriousness, QC is a staple of any good webcomic diet. It’s a storyline and character-based comic with a lot of humour, a lot of romance, a lot of indie music references that will make you feel old and uncool in that good tingly way, and just enough drama to keep you coming back for more.

Jeph is one of those webcomic artists who has evolved his drawing style basically by drawing a webcomic. The art in the first few years is so different than the current art, it almost seems like a different person drew them. But it’s been all Jeph since 2003 and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The main characters are all in their twenties, and do the typical hipster in denial jobs that allow them copious amounts of free time to drink and cause drama. But don’t be fooled, these are some of the most layered characters you’re apt to meet in webcomics. I really recommend going back and reading the archives to get the full story behind most of them, it’s worth the trouble

A lot of the comic relief is provided by Pintsize, an “Anthro-PC”, and Winslow, an Apple Anthro-PC that resembles a 1st gen iPod. They have adventures with a Roomba. It’s awesome.

Jeph’s music references get a little heavy for me sometimes, but I’m not as hip about music as I probably should be. Although I will admit I’ve checked out a few bands on his reccomendation.

There isn’t anywhere near the amount of sex or boobs as in the other two comics I’ve talked about here, but there is definitely sexual tension, which is sometimes more entertaining than boobs. Sometimes. At any rate, QC is almost always SFW, so you really don’t have a lot of excuses.

So, if you aren’t reading QC, then you need to. If you’ve never read a webcomic before, start here. If you already read QC, go back and read the archives again. If you’ve already done that, well, go down to the other Webcomic Wednesday posts and read those comics. Already done that? Well, then why don’t you do some work, you damn slackers.

–DB

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Sit, Ubu, Sit.

There are several things I love in this world that fall into the “food and drink” category: Guacamole, fish and chips, Walt Wit, pancakes, Sailor Jerry Rum, and mint chocolate chip ice cream, among others.

But, at the very tippy top of my list are two things: Sweet potato fries and Strongbow Cider.

Growing up, my father had a distaste for cooked orange food (don’t ask), so sweet potatoes were never on the menu. I didn’t even really see a sweet potato until college, when my roommate (who was very Pennsylvania Dutch) introduced me to them, along with other delicacies like shoofly pie and pirogies, but that’s for another post. When I moved to Pennsylvania a few years ago, the concept of “sweet potato fries” was still fairly foreign, but after I had my first taste at some hole in the wall diner in Allentown, I was hooked.

Philly doesn’t share the love of the sweet potato fry that the Lehigh Valley does, but you can still find some good ones around here. Most notably, at the Good Dog Bar (224 S 15th Street).

I fell in love with Good Dog when I was working at a place I hated in Center City. I would go there during my lunch break and order the Grilled 3 Cheese Sandwich, made with slices of fontina, asiago, and gruyere, sliced apples and bacon served on brioche. And, of course, served with a generous nest of both regular and sweet potato fries.

The Grilled Cheese is my Good Dog staple, but they offer some other amazing dishes, including a quiche of the day, baked mac and cheese, duck pot pie, mussels, and a Rice Krispy Treat sampler for dessert. It’s not the cheapest pub food, but it’s damn tasty.

Their beer menu seems to have changed recently, but the tap and bottle selection is up to par. Everything from PBR to Chimay is available at reasonable prices, no more or less than you’ll pay anywhere else in the city

Oh, you didn’t think I had forgotten about my other list-topper, did you? Good Dog is one of the few places in the city I’ve found that serves Strongbow Cider in cans, the way it needs to be properly enjoyed.

You can find Strongbow on tap in some of the Irish Pubs around town, and even in bottle cases at some of the beer distributors. But Strongbow really is best served in cans.

If you’ve never had Strongbow, don’t be fooled by the “cider” label. This is no Woodchuck. It’s dry, it’s refreshing, it’s 5.0% ABV. It’s an excellent alternative to beer without making you feel like a 19 year old girl at her first frat party.

The long and short of it is that Good Dog would be a place I would frequent even if it didn’t serve two of my all time favorite ingestibles. The staff is friendly and attentive, the atmosphere is dive-y without the irony, and the upstairs has a pool table, darts and a ms. pac-man machine. It seems to get a bit crowded on the weekend nights, but what bar in center city doesn’t?

My vote is to go there on a lunch break (even if you don’t hate your job), or an early happy hour. My personal preference is to sit at the bar on a lazy Saturday afternoon, with a Strongbow in one hand, a sweet potato fry in the other, and a half naked Michael Phelps on the TV. But that’s just me

–DB

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Interlude with LOLCat

I don’t have much to write about today, folks. So you get a LOLCat:
humorous pictures
more cat pictures

Do with it as you please.

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Webcomic Wednesday: Least I Could Do

It’s time for another round of Webcomic Wednesday, my alliterative attempt to share and review my list of daily webcomic reading with you, my eager audience of anonymous internet surfers.

Today’s comic is “Least I Could Do” by Ryan Sohmer and Lar Desouza. Now, before you go eagerly clicking that link, I feel I should warn you that this is another comic that is not for the prudish among us. While I have yet to see an illustrated boob or penis, the humor (and base concept) are very sexual in nature. It’s sort of like Cinemax in the 90’s: it’s not really porn, but you wouldn’t watch it in front of your boss.

The comic centers around Rayne, a 20-something man-child with too much disposable income and an affinity for casual sex, video games, Disney movies, and Red Bull.

No, it’s not for kids. But it’s damn funny. Yes, I’m a feminist. Yes, some of the humor is sexist. But it’s so over-the-top that you can either be a) really offended and go write angry letters about misogyny and the objectification of women, or you can b) laugh your ass off because it’s a fucking webcomic, people. I choose b. Plus, Sohmer seems to offend all parties equally, so it’s hard to nit pick.

The story lines are simple and punchline-based, and usually centered around something nice and nerdy, like Lord of the Rings, Transformers, Batman, or Ninja Turtles. Or they center around underage gymnasts and anal sex. There’s something for everyone.

The art has gone through a few revisions, but it’s current incarnation has been around for two years or more and is consistently good. There are also a few videos on the site that preview an animated version of the strip, which are pretty entertaining.

The comic updates 6 days a week (Mon-Sat), and you can pretty much jump in whenever, without having to delve into the archives for an extended period of time. Although doing so will provide you with a little more background on the characters other than “OMG TEH SEX”.

And yes, I do think poop jokes are funny.

–DB

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On the topic of Vampires

Over the weekend, I went to the Barnes and Noble in Rittenhouse Square to drool over books I can’t afford (sadly, I can clearly remember a time when books took precedence over food in my budget), and found myself even further confused by the hoopla surrounding the release of the last book in the uncomfortably tweeny Twilight Saga series (penned by Stephenie Meyer), Breaking Dawn.

Maybe I’m in the minority, but I just don’t get the appeal. I attempted to read the first book, and the writing is just so….livejournal-y. An example:

Facing my pallid reflection in the mirror, I was forced to admit that I was lying to myself. It wasn’t just physically that I’d never fit in. And if I couldn’t find a niche in a school with three thousand people, what were my chances here?

I didn’t relate well to people my age. Maybe the truth was that I didn’t relate well to people, period. Even my mother, who I was closer to than anyone else on the planet, was never in harmony with me, never on exactly the same page. Sometimes I wondered if I was seeing the same things through my eyes that the rest of the world was seeing through theirs. Maybe there was a glitch in my brain. But the cause didn’t matter. All that mattered was the effect. And tomorrow would be just the beginning.

I mean, it isn’t the worst writing in the world, and I suppose it’s geared towards the target teen audience, but I know a fair number of adults who idolize the series as well. The main character, Bella, seems….flat, without a personality. Which works when the hopelessly awkward teen girl reading the series wants nothing more than to project her personality onto this blank template of a character. It’s like having your very own Mary Sue without the hassle of having to actually write a fan fiction.

But Edward, the dashing, luminescent (don’t get me started on how many times he’s described as “glowing”), vampire love interest? I find him downright creepy. And not just because he’s a vampire. You don’t need to be a Vampire to be a creepy stalker. And (pardon me) Edward is a wee bit of creepy stalker.

My friend suggested to me that perhaps I just don’t like Vampire stories, which often have a “creepy stalker doomed romance” vibe. So I got to thinking, what Vampire stories are out there that cater to an older, and slightly less Hot Topic-clad fanbase? I came up with a few options:

Bloodsucking Fiends and You Suck! by Christopher Moore.

From the man who brought us such gems as Lamb, Fluke, and A Dirty Job comes Bloodsucking Fiends, and it’s sequel, You Suck!. The first book is infinitely better than the second, but even Moore admits he only wrote the second book because readers demanded it. So we get what we ask for, I suppose. Nonetheless, these are great vampire stories, full of Moore’s trademark wit and with a love story that doesn’t leave you feeling like you need a shower.

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The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice

Anne Rice is (well, was, before Jesus got to her) the master of all things Vampire. While I’m a fan of pretty much all the Vampire Chronicle books, Lestat is my favourite by far. The amount of depth, charisma and humour Rice brings to this very, VERY dark character makes him pretty damn irresistible. Plus the historical spin of these stories makes them really compelling and realistic. The love threads are there, but they focus on the animalistic side of the vampires, rather than their tortured souls.

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Vampire Hunter D by Hideyuki Kikuchi.

I don’t care if you don’t like anime or manga. Vampire Hunter D is everything a good Vampire story should be. Dark, funny, apocalyptic, violent, erotic and very bloody. It’s a little Van Helsing, a little Ninja Scroll, a little Final Fantasy, and a lot good. Don’t get the movies, read the books. The animes (while good) don’t do the character justice. The post-apocalyptic setting gives it an almost western/sci fi (think Firefly) feel, and the landscapes are almost as fleshed out as the characters. It’s a must.

Of course there are other good Vampire stories out there. The Buffy universe being the one that comes to the forefront of my mind, but these three really stand out for me as examples of why Vampire stories can be good, without relying on the “love story with a mortal” nonsense (of which, I’m aware, the Buffy-verse is decidedly guilty of). Consider these your anti-Twilight.

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The Devil and Thomas Mütter

Happy Monday, web-o-verse. I’ve decided that Mondays around here will be restaurant/bar reviews as we tend to go out on the weekends and do things like eat and drink. Imagine that.

I’ll get to the restaurant review in a minute, but first I need to share a little geekitude.

If you haven’t yet been to Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum (19 South 22nd Street, Philadelphia, PA), then you are truly missing out on one of the best museums Philly has to offer. The collection boasts everything from a plaster cast of the torso of world-famous Siamese Twins, Chang & Eng to a case with drawers full of over 2,000 objects extracted from people’s throats. My favorite part is the wall of skulls. Beneath each skull is an index card with the country of origin, the subject’s name, and a little bit about them and how they died.

The descriptions read something like this: “Suicide by cutting her own throat due to disappointments in life”. It’s not for the weak of stomach, but those looking for a more historic version of the Bodies exhibits are in for a good time.

Ok, on to the restaurant. Because who doesn’t go on the prowl for a good burger after spending a few hours staring at jars of human organs? Since Phrigid was out of town this weekend, my restauranting/museuming partner was my friend Zach. We walked out of the museum with no real purpose in terms of what we wanted to eat, just that it should be filling and involve good beer. Which is pretty much how I go about my daily life.

We stumbled upon the Devil’s Alley Bar and Grill (1907 Chesnut Street). They had both upstairs and downstairs seating, we chose to go sit by the upstairs bar. It was fairly busy for a Sunday afternoon, but not so much as to feel crowded. The beer selection included Legacy Euphoria, Magic Hat #9, Yard’s Tavern Spruce and Victory Hop Devil on tap, and Unibrou Ephemere, Legacy Hedonism, Arrogant Bastard Ale, Lucifer and Chimay in bottles. Zach got a Euphoria, I got an Ephemere.

The food is fairly standard American, with the “Devil Burger” (topped with onion rings and fries) being the headliner. Other menu standouts were a Grilled Cheese with apples and bacon, a Grilled PB&J, and a healthy selection of BBQ ribs. Zach ordered a Turkey Cubano, and I went with a Turkey Burger with guacamole.

The Cubano arrived with a side of homemade waffle potato chips (gaufrettes), sliced and with accompanying red sauce. Zach seemed to enjoy it. I tried a chip and sort of wished that my burger came with a side of them as well. If you go, don’t assume that your burger or sandwich will come with a side of some sort unless stated on the menu, my burger came with nothing of the sort. The turkey burger was definitely good and they didn’t skimp on the guacamole. I sort of wish there was a little more of a kick to it, but I’ll survive.

The bar itself is open and welcoming, and the staff seemed friendly. We never wanted for service, although we did have to hunt down napkins at one point. The downstairs dining room looks entirely date-worthy, with small tables, booths and candles. The upstairs bar has open windows and two, large HD TVs. As Zach put it, “There’s something about watching baseball, or any sporting event, on a really large, widescreen TV that’s just…..beautiful” I think he may have teared up a little, too.

Overall, it’s a spot I’ll probably go to again if I’m in the neighborhood, but not one I’m going to go out of my way for. I am interested to try those ribs, though, maybe I’m missing out on the raison d’etre of the place.

–DB

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