Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Latest DVD Reviews

My three latest DVD reviews were posted on Friday, Saturday, and today. Pie in the Sky took most of the week to get through. I had hoped to watch three episodes from each series, but by the seventh episode I watched, I felt I had enough for a review. I at least watched the series finale as well.

Griefwalker took some time to write because I wasn't sure at first where I was going with what I was thinking about in that one. Fortunately, it turned out ok.

I thought of a beginning different from what was posted, about food as we know it, such as fettucine alfredo, and then here is Ferran Adria, turning food into dishes completely foreign to sensibilities, yet utterly fascinating. 50 minutes in, I thought of the beginning that's there. It works much better.

Here they are:

Pie in the Sky: Complete Collection


El Bulli: Cooking in Progress

Tidbits from the Seventh Issue of The Henderson Press

Having written a review a day for the past three days for Movie Gazette Online, I can relate to what Jeremy Twitchell does in the seemingly dozens of articles he writes for just one issue of The Henderson Press. And yet, I don't even come close to what he does because I just sit in front of my TV, watch whatever DVD I'm reviewing, take notes, and then write the review. Twitchell goes out, interviews people, gets enough information to write the story that needs to be written, and then writes it. And he does this over and over for one issue. And he makes each article fresh and well-written. The only fatigue he probably ever shows is when he falls into bed exhausted from the day's work.

I also admire Twitchell because he's into alliteration like I am. The front-page article of Vol. 2, No. 2, January 27-February 10, 2011, headlined "Signs of the Times" begins with this: "A proliferation of political placards has ushered the 2011 municipal election cycle..." "Ushered in" is what it should have been, but I'm not going to quibble, what with how much Twitchell alone contributes to The Henderson Press. There are worse writers. I've worked with many.

Twitchell realizes that in order to keep going as a writer, you have to find bits to have fun with, such as alliteration. You have to see if there are other angles to a story that are just as informative as what you're thinking about, which keep you interested. It's why I'm not burned out from three DVD reviews in three days because I found different angles for all of them, things that I've long thought about that I believed should be included in those reviews. Next up is Patton Oswalt: Finest Hour, and my angle for that one is that I've never seen Patton Oswalt do stand-up. I know of his other ventures, but here, Meridith and I only know him as the voice of Remy in Ratatouille, considering how many times we've seen it. And for a future review of I, Claudius, I've already written an idea I intend to expand when I watch what I hope will be most of that miniseries. As Ferran Adria says in the terrific documentary El Bulli: Cooking in Progress, "You never know where an idea will come from." I don't, and I don't try to force them. They will always come in time.

Now to this seventh issue, to see what my future community was up to then:

- Skyline Casino's full-page ad on page 2 trumpets free tacos for players on Sunday evenings, and free Italian sausage sandwiches to players on Wednesday evenings.

- Copper wire thefts in Henderson became prevalent enough to merit an article about it by Twitchell. Copper prices rising while the economy remains flat is why copper wire was being stolen from streetlights. According to this article, it "costs the city about $7.50 in materials and labor to replace," as stated by city spokeswoman Kathleen Richards. "In the last six months, about 2,500 feet have been stolen, she said, costing Henderson almost $19,000."

- Scrolling quickly through the issue, I see no stories by Don Logay, but I hope he's the one who wrote the fire and police reports in this issue and later issues. It reads like his work, straightforward and without unnecessarily wordy delay.

- The North Community Police Station has a "60-kilowatt solar array on top of its parking structure" to generate photovoltaic electricity.

- Improvements to be made to Arroyo Grande Park include the addition of a disc golf facility. Upon reading that disc golf involves throwing a flying disc at a target, I want to try it. It sounds a lot more fun than regular golf.

- Jennifer Twitchell benefited from taking a week off from her column. Her latest, about creating a family budget, is much better than her columns before, and I especially liked this line: "I was stunned. How does one spend $28 on Redbox in one month?! Oh yeah, tricky Redbox. You and your $1 promise a night that quickly turns into $7 because I forgot about returning the lame movie until a week later."

- The Henderson Symphony Orchestra had its Master Series III concert on February 11, which, according to its website, included Gymnopedie No. 1 and 2 by Erik Satie and West Side Story Symphonic Dances by Leonard Bernstein. I want to see concerts by the Henderson Symphony Orchestra and the Las Vegas Philharmonic, but only if they include Satie, Schubert, or Gershwin. Maybe I'll see these concerts differently since I'll be living where I want and will be inclined to attend them even if Satie, Schubert or Gershwin isn't part of them. The atmosphere also helps.

- There's a coupon from Hammer's Grill and Bar for $7.99 All You Can Eat Fish Fry Fridays. That sounds good.

- On the last page of coupons, middle of the bottom column, The Henderson Press uses the space to state, "Place your coupon here for $50 an issue!", with a minimum 8-issue commitment. They sound more business-savvy than The Signal here in Santa Clarita.

- In the job classifieds, the Basic Barber Shop is looking for a barber, requiring experience (naturally) and a Nevada license. Nice to know that businesses in Henderson have actual people behind them.

- No listing for a Toyota Corolla in the car ads. Findlay Toyota is pushing a 2010 Toyota Camry Sedan for $20,159. Not my kind of car, and definitely not my kind of price.

And that's it for this issue. I'm disappointed not to find Don Logay's byline on any article in this issue, but I hope he's in the next issue. When an issue has Twitchell and Logay, it's guaranteed great reading. Fred Couzens' articles are bloated, basically throwing in all the necessary information without a plan of how to present it. Maybe his articles will improve in coming issues. Or maybe it's how he will always write. I hope for the former, though, because I don't look forward to his byline. I only read his articles because I want to know everything about Henderson, and what he reports on is part of it.

Two Sandwich Menu Boards, One Supermarket

On Friday, March 30, at Pavilions, I saw this sandwich menu board:

On the left side are options to build your own sandwich, with the bread you want, the meats, the cheeses, and the condiments. Meridith did the math on her calculator and came up with over 3,000 different combinations. I was curious, but for me, the fun is more in putting many combinations together, seeing what sounds good.

On the left side are ready-made sandwich types. Just order whichever one you want, and they'll make it for you. You don't have to come up with your own sandwich. Not a great deal of imagination in these sandwiches, but since it's just a supermarket, where you get the groceries that you need during the week, that's not to be expected. And there's photos of each sandwich, photos sanctioned by whichever division of Safeway Inc. handles such matters.

Yesterday at Pavilions, I saw a new sandwich menu board:

I wondered what had changed so much to trigger the need for a new sandwich menu board. Were customers so unsatisfied with how their sandwiches looked compared to what the photos showed that an exasperated Pavilions asked for a new sandwich menu board sans the photos? I see also that the "California Dreamin'" sandwich has changed to simply "Turkey Bacon Avocado." I think I know why. "California Dreamin'" would be the name for the sandwich in Detroit since Detroit is far enough away from California, particularly Southern California. But living in California every day, there's no dreaming involved. We live however it keeps us sane. In California, why would we be dreaming of California? Ultimately, that name makes no sense here.

On the new board, there's only a photo of bread in the now-"Classic Sandwiches" menu instead of "Build Your Own Sandwich." I guess shoppers trust that there will be meat and cheese in a sandwich, and no photographic proof is needed. Plus, it looks like a sign of cost-cutting, or of the sandwich counter not doing so well here (unless it's a company-wide edict) that there's no condiment offerings on this menu. The one from the end of March has a fair list of options, but all you'll find of condiments in this new menu is under "All Sandwiches Include:". Mayonnaise and mustard. That's it. Must not be a demanding crowd here. It always fascinates me that there's someone in the company, perhaps overseeing this region, who looks over reports of what's selling and what's not and determines what should be stocked by that. All those lists, all those figures. That's a person I'd be interested in talking to, not to suggest anything myself, but to wonder how they do such a job, what they do after they determine what's needed, and who has to sign off on it. It's like how the Walmart on Kelly Johnson Parkway sells books that are different from the ones at the Walmart Supercenter on Carl Boyer Drive. Someone studies all that.

It's a streamlined menu, I guess. The more time people spend staring at a menu, the less time they spend ordering. Lost minutes are lost sales. Put the same price on each menu instead of in the middle of the "Choose Your Favorite Sandwich" menu on the one from March 30, show that all the breakfast sandwiches are $1.99, and that's that. Less for a customer to look at, everything close together, and they'll spend less time staring at the menu trying to decide.

I didn't ask Meridith to take a photo of the breakfast sandwich menu from March 30 because it didn't interest me as much as the main sandwich menus. Perhaps they needed photos of the sandwiches for this new one because there's not as many choices as there are on the main sandwich menu. They have to gussy it up somehow.

At the bottom of the new one is "3 Minutes or Less or Free." For the rushed office worker, no doubt. It seems disheartening though. No one wants to wait for anything anymore. No one wants to take time to look around a bit. I must be the only one who, despite knowing every inch of that supermarket, always finds something interesting (to me) to look at. In this case, the menu boards, and wondering who created them, what meetings there might have been to determine what they should look like, because you just know there had to be meetings for such a thing.

On the March 30 main sandwich menu is a Chicago South Sider, which has disappeared from the new menu. Doesn't sell here. Only the basics in sandwiches for all. I'm not sure if this will improve sandwich sales, though. Every time I've been there, the sandwich counter has always been empty. It's cheaper to grab the already-made, already-wrapped half-hoagie sandwiches in the refrigerated case that sell for $2.49 each if you buy two or more. $3.99 if you only buy one. For $5.49, I'd prefer to find a more adventurous sandwich than what's offered on the new menu. Once in Henderson, I want to see if there's any changes in the sandwich menus. Since a great number of residents come from somewhere else, I should think Vons would want to be a little more daring there. Or maybe not, since there's so many options for eats in Henderson. Better to be safe than unprofitable. I still want to see.