Tuesday, July 29, 2008

at the font conference

fun video about a bunch of fonts attending a conference

Wingdings, Futura and Comic Sans save the day!

Nobody uses Microsoft Works! Watch the video and you'll know what I'm talking about...

on the road: Best Western Seri Pacific KL

Ok, technically this really isn't on the road since it's still in KL, but it was still a trip, so it counts.

Someone was kind enough to give us a lucky draw voucher for a one night weekend stay at this Seri Pacific Hotel, located right across the street from the Mall (this hotel used to be the Pan Pacific, I think). So, of course, I'm always glad for a hotel stay, especially when it's a decent hotel (anything 3 stars & below need not apply) so despite the high occupancy rates, I managed to secure a booking for this past weekend (thank you for the voucher, aunty Evelyn!)

Anyway, the hotel is in the midst of refurbishing, and so some of the rooms were already refurbished, some were still the old rooms. Unfortunately, we could only get one of the older rooms on the 23rd floor, but it was still ok. When we reached the door, I was rather puzzled. There was no slot whatsoever to slot the keycard in. Strange. But I soon figured out that it was actually a contact card and just tapping it on the lock actually unlocked it. Pretty cool!

The room smelled of cigarette smoke. I guess it wasn't a non-smoking floor. The furnishings and all were rather on the old side, especially in the bathroom which was alright but not overly impressive. We did have a nice view of KLCC (which was nice) and the Klang river (which was bubbling and frothy and not so nice). Such a contrast, hi-tech lock on the door but old furnishings (not tastefully antique, just dated like, 20 years ago).

So, the room was okay, let me get on to one of the main highlights of any hotel stay - the buffet breakfast!

Zende restaurant is the location for the international buffets at this hotel. And it was hopping with activity. I guess they weren't joking when they said they were almost fully booked up. Anyway, breakfast was a great surprise. I've often denigrated hotel buffets in Malaysia as they have to be halal-fied, so there's no bacon or ham or pork sausage. This one more than made up for any lack of pork with some wonderful alternatives, such as tasty grilled salmon (yes, they had that!), good fish porridge, tender chicken sausages, and one of the best ever roasted baby potatoes I've had. Add to that a very good, stuffed and cheesy freshly cooked omelette, among some other good stuff, and it was a breakfast to savor. The only complaint is that I'm getting old, so I couldn't stuff in as much as I could before. Too bad!

The trip was made complete with not just one, but two trips to Pavilion KL which we hadn't been to before. One of the best discoveries was Mercato supermarket, which sells a whole bunch of stuff that I hadn't seen for years (read: since I came here from Canada). Found out that they have a branch in Hartamas Shopping Center, I'll definitely go there since Cold Storage is getting average! Oh, and also a quick lunch at Ichiban Boshi, a great Japaneses place also with the conveyor belt system. Even Sushi Zanmai can't compete with that. Again, if only it had a branch in PJ!

Anway, back to Seri Pacific Hotel...

Room: 6/10
Bathroom: 5/10 (really old shower head & fittings)
Service: 4/10 (took them over an hour to deliver a comb!)
Food: 7.5/10 (good stuff at the breakfast buffet!)
Overall: 6/10 (an average stay but not really one of the better hotels I've stayed at)

on the plate: Pasta Mania! at Pavilion KL

First time at Pavilion KL, with so many high-end boutiques (and high-end dining to match). So, where could we eat without breaking the bank?

The answer came like a shining light down on the shopping directory, in the form of a little entry called Pasta Mania!

Pasta Mania! is a Singaporean concept, serving decent pasta and pizza at good, cheap prices. We knew the restaurant in Singapore was good, but, like many other restaurants, would it survive being Malaysianized? Well, only one way to find out.

The place, surprisingly for a Saturday evening, wasn't packed, which didn't really bode well. However, what we saw on the plates of diners looked pretty good, so we ventured in. The waiter gave us menus and took our order a few minutes later. Alice was getting hungry, so I was confronted with this:

a hungry woman is a dangerous woman. Pay attention, guys!

Yeah, Alice was getting hungry.

Anyway, we ordered a pasta, a pizza and a combo set (which was an add-on consisting of a bowl of soup, garlic bread, and a soft drink). The soup and garlic bread were okay, and the ice lemon tea that came was, well, typical iced lemon tea that you usually get bottled.

The pizza (supreme) we ordered was a small sized one, which cost about RM15.90. Pepperoni, ham, pineapples, capsicums and mushrooms, it was nice, I'd say better than most other generic pizzas due to them being a bit more generous with their toppings.

But the real star was the pasta. There's a reason why it's called Pasta Mania, and this is it

Alfredo pasta! Rich creamy sauce with ham, chicken and peas, oozing goodness all over the decent-sized portion. And only RM14.90. How cool is that?

My only real complaint about this place? Is that they halal-fied this place, so there's no real pork in the ham or bacon. No doubt a sensible business tactic coming to Malaysia, but it kinda kills the joy of having real bacon on your pasta. Oh well.

Anyway, all in, this is a decent place to get a sensibly priced feed, especially if you're into pastas (and to a certain extent, pizzas) without having to empty your wallet and all your spare change. I'd take this place over Itallianie's any day, any time. Locations right now are Pavilion KL, Aeon Bukit Tinggi in Klang, and some mall in Penang which I can't remember. I wish they'd open one up somewhere around the PJ vicinity.

Food: 7/10
Drinks: 5/10
Service: 7/10
Pricing: 8/10
Overall: 7/10

Thursday, July 24, 2008

on the screen: Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D

Last night we went to TGV at Pyramid (we seem to be going there a lot more now that we live relatively nearby) to catch Journey to the Center of the Earth in 3D. Paid RM36 for two tickets, so it had better be good.

Anyway, the movie itself was not bad. I wasn't really expecting very much in terms of intelligence, just a wild ride, and really, that's what we got. Brendan Fraser, who happens to be pretty much my favorite actor, is, well, Brendan Fraser. I mean, how could you have a movie starring Brendan Fraser without his trademark wide-eyed, "now we're in deep shit" kinda look? The rest of the casting was good as well.

The movie does try to follow the premise of the book as much as possible, and it does, to the most part, succeed. The only way to make this entertaining without making it too technical was to make it an effects tour-de-force, and that's really what they did. Nothing much in terms of storyline, and there was no dialog that was in any way memorable, but the effects eye candy combined with the 3D glasses was really what made the movie.

If I had any grouses about the movie, it would be that it was just all over too fast. Many parts that would have been the ride of a lifetime, like the mine cart ride, the underground ocean and the T-rex chase, could have been drawn out a little bit more to make it more of an exhilarating ride. In this movie it was kinda like, "whee, this is fun... huh, that's it? it's over?" Maybe they didn't want to draw comparisons with Jurassic Park or Indiana Jones or the ilk, but this is one ride that ended just too abruptly to be honest.

Anyway, decent acting, great effects, but way too short. Bring on the Mummy 3!

Acting: 6/10
Storyline: 4/10
Effects: 9/10
Overall: 7/10

off the plate: Deli Nasi Lemak at Sunway Pyramid

before going to the cinema last night we had a quick dinner at the Deli Nasi Lemak, since Alice saw they had asam laksa and she wanted some. It's located on the 1st floor, near the entrance to the cinema

so, she had the asam laksa and I ordered a nasi lemak with beef rendang. Sadly, the asam laksa was very small and just wasn't fresh. They used canned pineapples and the soup was just dubious and tasteless. Just not worth the RM7 we had to pay for it!

the nasi lemak was okay. Also a rather small serving for the price of RM7, and the beef rendang was a small portion and was all chopped up to make it look 'bigger'. The only redeeming factor was the sambal which was quite tasty & nice.

definitely another one for the 'no second time' list.

food: 3/10
drinks: 5/10
service: 4/10
overall: 4/10

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Groove Dynasty - Ready to Fly

I may have posted this before, but it's good enough to post again (yeah, I'm getting old, I can't remember so many things)

this is a good group, I think it's a collection of some of the best musicians in Japan getting together for a concert. They're pretty good. And they have 5 drummers. Count them - 5

I really love the electric guitarist on this video. He's so exuberant and his excitement is infectious, with a wonderful bright, clean tone which seems rather rare *squinty eyed glare at Max*

Beaker "sings" Ode to Joy

an absolutely awesome video of Beaker, Beaker, Beaker, Beaker, Beaker, and Beaker.

watch it and you'll know what I mean.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

off the plate: Station Kopitiam at Cineleisure Damansara

Just before going to catch Hellboy II, we decided to try this place at Cineleisure. At their entrance they display a whole range of their dishes which is quite extensive. It's located right beside Luca's Pizza, which we tried before and was quite bad.

Station Kopitiam serves mostly regular local food, like varieties of fried rice, fried noodles, rice with dishes, and some basic western food. Surprisingly, they also serve stuff from the Mr. Teppanyaki next door, so I guess they're under the same management.

So, we had a serving of beef noodles, and a mixed beef and chicken teppanyaki. The service in the first place was quite mediocre, the server was mumbling and we couldn't really make out what he was talking about. Then when the beef noodles finally came, it came without cut chillies which usually accompany this dish. Asking for the chillies took quite some effort, with one waiter forgetting altogether and when it finally came, it came without any soy sauce that it's usually soaked in. The beef was hard and was definitely not fresh and the serving size was rather puny.

The teppanyaki fared slightly better, although by the time it arrived, we had already finished the beef noodles. At least this one was edible, although it arrived with no sauce or gravy or anything either.

This place is definitely a place where there will be no second time.

Food: 3/10
Drinks: 5/10 for some okay tasting barley and some cheap sachet of green tea
Service: 2/10
Overall: 3/10 and we're definitely not going anywhere near that place again

on the screen: Hellboy II

2 hours of madcap madness from Guillermo del Toro? Bring it on!

Last night we went to watch Hellboy II at Cineleisure Damansara. With all the other movies that are out right now, Hellboy II wasn't really high on my list of movies to watch, but it was one of the only movies that was showing at a later time because some preview of the Dark Knight was taking up most of the cinemas -_-

Anyway, the movie was just alright. Nothing much to shout about, with some action, few laughs, and not much of a storyline. Couldn't fault the special effects, but good effects does not a good movie make.

So where did those two hours go, anyway? The storyline was insipid at best, while the acting was decent, all the characters and especially their powers were criminally underused. Why does Liz Sherman need a gun when she can shoot fireballs from her hands? So much more effective. And throughout there are only 3-4 actual action scenes. I left feeling nothing for the characters nor for the action or storyline. Maybe if there weren't any other movies to watch and if it were cheaper tickets, I wouldn't mind so much, but paying RM24 for such insipid fare while there are other, better flicks out there is just not my cup of tea. However, there were some nice rides so it wasn't a total washout. A scene where Hellboy and Abe Sapein are singing Can't Smile Without You while drinking their sorrows away is especially delightful.

Story: 5/10
Characterization: 4/10
Action: 6/10
Effects: 7/10
Overall: 6/10

On a side note, which blooming idiot at Cineleisure Damansara decided to schedule for like 6-7 cinemas to end their movie screenings at the same time? That created a massive jam, at the escalators, auto-pay machines, and in the car park. You can generally have movies start at the same time, cause people will come at differing times, but having several movies end at the same time and with the awkward parking system at Cineleisure just makes for a bad idea.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

this one's for the dogs

Looking around for appropriate food for our doggies, we stumbled across this website, Dog Food Analysis. Basically what it does, is to analyze the contents of every kind of dog food they could get their hands on, analyze it and review it according to its contents (and for many of them, experience as well).

It's scary sometimes finding out about supposedly 'premium' dog foods that actually have crap content (including the pet food scare involving Eukanuba and some other brands recently). I was at the Pet Safari at Ikano recently looking around and overheard a couple looking for pet food, with an employee guiding them around. He was showing this food and told them it was RM26 for a 3kg pack to which they replied "oh, that's too expensive". Wow, if that's expensive, I wonder what crap they feed their dogs.

To put it in perspective, we feed our dogs Orijen and Eagle Pack Holistic. For the 3kg pack, Orijen costs RM50 and Eagle Pack about RM60. I know it's a big expense, but if you love your dogs, you wouldn't feed them crap that kills them, right?

What a life to be a dog. They eat even better than we do. They get premium organic & holistic stuff, we eat... mamak food, fast food burgers, cheap economy mixed rice, hawker food... to be a dog in a good and loving home is really living the life - eat, sleep, poop, play... what a great deal, isn't it?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

all these ... things (or applications, as they call it)

on Facebook...

Actually, I enjoy Facebook. I'm not obsessed with it like many other people, but I do check it regularly and enjoy being able to communicate with friends, and once in a while challenge them to a game of something or another. Plus, I love the Superpoke application.

But some of these applications are plain annoying. So, they get you to take some questionnaire, to determine what animal you are, or what instrument you are, or what kind of tool you are. Fine. However, what really annoys me is the audacity of some of these applications to demand that you invite your other friends to participate in these shenanigans before they show you the results. End result in my case? Just hit "cancel" and log out of Facebook.

I strongly object to being forced to inflict all these applications on my friends just to get the end result of some silly questionnaire. It's just not ethical. I would only invite friends to applications that I think they would enjoy using, and if I feel that nobody would like it, I invite nobody.

the dog winds

Speedy farts

especially in the car

and it stinks


although, I never thought that anyone would come up with the idea of coming up with a website with this URL.

on the plate: MAPs barbecue at my home!

Last Saturday we had the MAPs people over at our place for a training session for the whole day and then to have a barbecue at night for dinner. This was the first barbecue we've had since we moved into our new place, so it was quite an anticipated event, at least for us. I spent quite a long time marinating and preparing all the food over the couple of days before that, so I was hoping that it would turn out alright.

So! With hickory wood chips and fresh rosemary sprigs added to the fire, things were smelling wonderful and tummies were getting hungry. As usual, I don't have pictures as I don't have a camera, and HP imaging sucks, and I really means sucks hard, especially at night.

Let's go through the menu...

Tequila lemon prawns - 4/10 - alright, but not really enough flavor to really make much of an impact. Also they ended up rather small after cooking. Maybe next time more lemon and bigger prawns.

Whiskey'ed chicken wings - 6/10 - also okay, tasted decent enough

Bacon wrapped chicken parcels - 7/10 - when barbecued, quite good with the bacon adding wonderful flavor and with cheese and herbed butter inside the chicken. Leftovers which were baked instead were woefully dry

Marinated peppers & mushrooms - 7/10 - marinated in olive oil and herbs and then barbecued. They were quite a hit

Roasted potato & pepper salad - 8/10 - by far the best thing that I made that night. Roasted potatoes, roasted peppers, boiled eggs and celery in a rich, creamy dressing was just simply wonderful. I gotta make that again sometime.

Things I didn't make were the sausages (cheese sausages from Ayamas, quite good and gooey when done well), and the lamb (bought from Cold Storage and Jusco. One of them does their marinade really, really spicy, but I couldn't tell which one it was. They were not too fatty and tasted good)