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Monday, March 30, 2009

American Idol 8 – Secret Revealed!

Did anyone else out there notice that American Idol Top 10er Michael Sarver, is secretly the inspiration for Oliver Coipel’s design for Thor! Don’t believe me?

Check this out! The similarities are just too uncanny to be a coincidence!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Food Review - JOM Bali Cafe


Name
JOM Bali Cafe (Halal)
Food
Coffee and Toast (with Eggs)
Location
Carrefour Subang Jaya

Getting there
It’s located on the 1st floor of the Carrefour Subang Jaya.

Parking
Ample parking spaces in the Carrefour car-park.

Service
Surprisingly, service was extremely slow even though the place was almost empty when I visited. We had to wait about 25 minutes for the coffee and toast to arrive.



Ambience
The place is clean and well-lit. However, I have not figured out why the name is Jom Bali as neither the décor nor (with the exception of the stone tiles near the service counter) the menu were Balinese.

Taste
The coffee was rather bland and lacked the oomph from either the coffee beans or the way it was brewed. The milk didn’t do much for it either.

The half boiled egg on garlic toast was pretty good as the egg was done just right and the aroma from the garlic butter spread on the toast made it almost impossible to resist ordering more. The slice of turkey ham however was an un-necessary distraction that didn’t really go well with the egg or toast either visually or taste-wise.

Presentation
Being a coffee junkie, almost any coffee looks good to me. However, I was unpleasantly surprised that this one didn’t taste as good as it looked.

The Egg on Toast was very well done and presented. Having the egg put on top of the slice of turkey ham sitting on the toast was quite creative. However, the color of the turkey ham made it look a little odd as it looked like some kind of synthetic meat.


Variety
There were quite a number of items on the menu, mainly consisting of light items.

Value for Money
Very affordable for a rather nice and comfy place.


Overall
Good place to take a quick break when you are shopping and needed a cool drink and some snacks.

Match-ups Made for Fan-Boys: Punisher vs.Deathstroke

Punisher vs. Deathstroke
This is a match-up that would make fan-boys drool all over – The Terminator from DC (Deathstroke) vs. Marvel’s own Terminator (Punisher).

The no-nonsense Punisher (who had taken out the entire Marvel Universe in Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe) vs. the virtually undefeatable bad@$$ from DC (who, if you re-call, single-handedly took down all of JLA in Identity Crisis!)

Punisher
Frank Castle is determined to eradicate “crime” by using any means necessary in the guise of the Punisher. He is the judge, jury and executioner of all who he considers guilty. This made it difficult to categorize him as a “Hero” in the traditional sense as heroes don’t kill. He is a constant thorn to the underworld, especially to the Kingpin.

Deathstroke
Genetically engineered, Deathstroke the Terminator is a heck of a deadly foe.
He is a result of a medical experiment done by the army to create meta-humans soldiers (similar to the origin of Captain America). Initially thought to be a failure, the project was dropped. However, Slade discovered that this experiment enhanced everything from his sight, smell and strength to his reflexes. His clashes are mainly with the Titans, but more recently, he had upped his ante and we would see him clashing more with the big guns in the DCU – the JLA.

Who will kick whose butt?

Slade will kick Frank's tushies so bad he won't know which universe he belongs to after the fight. Agree, don't agree? Let me know...

Movie Review - Knowing

Knowing is Everything...you never expected from it.

Movie Title
Knowing
Year
2009
Genre
Sci-Fi, Action, Thriller

Story
John Koestler (Nicolas Cage) is an MIT Professor and single parent to hearing-impaired Caleb Koestler (Chandler Canterbury). Caleb goes to the elementary school where 50 years ago had planted a time capsule in the school compound, to be opened 50 years later. Contained within the time capsule are envelopes with children’s drawings of the future they imagine would be, but 1 such envelope was put in by a child named Lucinda Embry. When the time capsule was opened, Caleb gets the envelope from Lucinda. It contains 2 pages of seemingly random numbers but John Koestler discovered, to his dismay, that they predict deadly disasters that have occurred in the past 50 years (from the time the time capsule was opened) and also those that will occur from that point on. More importantly, he knows that somehow, they have an important role to play in these predictions.

Acting
The acting is pretty credible. There were no jarring distractions from the main cast. Chandler Canterbury is another precocious young actor in the same mould as Haley Joel Osment (from Sixth Sense) and Jonathan Lipnicki (from Jerry Maguire). Watch out for more good things from this young man.

Overall


There are a few disturbing scenes – particularly those involving the “Whispering People” and the plane/train crashes. The CGI were very well done, although some were very unreal and illogical if one were to think about it.

There are also multiple parallels to the events as recorded in the Holy Bible. The “Whispering People” were made to fit the description of Angels (as evidenced by the appearance of “wings” after their transformation) and the movie’s event at the end is also from a major Biblical event. Plus, there were references to the Book of Ezekiel.


This movie will confirm that, in the bigger picture, Earth Hour, of which we will zealously participate in, will not count for much in the end.

It’s a good watch as it is quite different from any movie that was made recently.

Order your DVD copy here: http://astore.amazon.com/eareotbi-20/detail/B001GCUO02

Rating: 6.5/10

Monday, March 23, 2009

Comic Review - Weapon X


Title/StorylineWeapon X
Publish Date/Year
1991
Creative TeamBarry Windsor Smith
Issue (s)Marvel Comics Presents 72-84
Publisher
Marvel

Story
Fans waited 20 years for this story to be told. We finally learn how he got the Adamantium in his body and how he escaped the Weapon X Program.

Logan was kidnapped by the Weapon X Program where Professor Thorton (who led the experiments), Dr. Abraham Cornelius and Carol Hines began examining Logan.

They soon learnt that Logan was a mutant with super fast healing and would thus make the perfect weapon they were trying to build. Logan's bones and claws were bonded with the indestructible metal Adamantium. Logan proved too difficult for the Weapon X Program to control and shortly thereafter, escapes the Weapon X facility. The Adamantium bonding process made Logan into the feral being we know him to be when Department H (Later known as Canada’s Alpha Flight) first found him in the wild Canadian Rockies.

ArtIt’s Barry Windsor-Smith! ‘Nuff Said.

For those unfamiliar with the name, this guy’s art is so highly revered that he is considered the person who did the Mona Lisa of the comic world. He is one of the people (along with Neal Adams) who revolutionized comic art in the 70’s. His work is still relevant and looks really good even by today’s standards. His art is unmistakable with his trademark signature on his covers “BWS”.

Additional CommentsThis is great reference/reading material for Wolverine fans and fans of the X-Men movies. It is a great jump on point/primer for those who can’t wait for the movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine to hit the cinemas in May as it provides in-depth insight into the mystery of Wolverine comic fans had to wait over 20 years to finally learn.

Chris Claremont has been synonymous with writing anything and everything X-Men and Wolverine related since the revival of the new X-Men in the 70’s. Surprisingly, this was done by Windsor-Smith alone.

The great art and writing makes this story timeless and worth every dollar spent on it. Go buy it already!

Food Review - Rojak & Cendol Penang (in Taman Mayang)

Name
Taman Mayang Cendol
Food
Cendol, Rojak, ABC
Location
Taman Mayang

Getting there
Travel along the LDP from Puchong/Sunway towards 1-Utama, the mobile stall is located at the left junction turning into Taman Mayang right across from the SS 25 Road Sign along the LDP.
Parking
There are lots of places to park vehicles as it is located at the residential area.

Service
Quick and fuss-free. There are quite a number of people queuing for their food when I was there. Not sure if this is the usual crowd size.
Ambience
The mobile stall is located below a big shady tree. They have also set up a few foldable tables & plastic chairs for customers’ comfort. Hence, it can be quite breezy. Nice.

Taste
Quite disappointed with it as the cendol was pretty ordinary. Based on the crowd, I expected these to be repeat and loyal customers. The cendol greenies were OK and the red bean was good (but wished they didn’t skimp on them as there was too little given per bowl).

However, I found the shaved ice to be too coarse, like ice pebbles. They took away the enjoyment of a smooth cendol tasting experience.
Presentation
The standard stainless steel bowl.

Variety
They have the normal ones and ones with glutinous rice. They also serve Ice Kacang (ABC), Rojak and Mee Rojak.

Value for Money
RM1.60 a pop for the standard bowl. RM2.20 for the one with glutinous rice. Not expensive but not the cheapest around either.

Overall
Disappointed. Not as good as the crowds led me to think. Shaved ice was to coarse and more red beans would have been welcomed. Give it a miss.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Food Review - Xenri – D’Garden Terrace


NameXenri – D’Garden Terrace (Wisma Hap Seng) Food
Japanese Cuisine (Halal)Location2nd floor of Menara Hap Seng (opposite of Shangri-La, KL)

Getting there
It is located within the Menara Hap Seng building, right opposite the Shangri-La KL. The other landmark to lookout for is the Beach Club along Jalan Sultan Ismail. It is located diagonally across from it.
Parking
There are ample parking spaces within the Menara Hap Seng building. Diners at Xenri will get free parking (parking ticket will be validated upon bill settlement)

Service
The service is top-notch and impeccable. There is usually a queue for the walk-ins for the weekend buffet. The hostess greets all walk-in diners and for those that are willing to be on the waiting list, she calls back once there are available seats.

The wait staff is also very attentive to the diners’ needs and requests (as there are also menu-ordered items for buffet diners). They also replace any used chinaware & glasses very quickly. Too quickly, in fact. I had to tell them that I want to re-use them to play my part in reducing water usage. AmbienceThe place is nicely designed with separate dining rooms for families or small parties ala Japanese-styled rooms while there is a common dining area for smaller tables near to the buffet lines.

The buffet lines are separated into the following islands:
- Starters/Salads
- Sushi/Sashimi
- Desserts/Ice-Cream
- Drinks (Hot & Cold)
- Main Courses
- The Grill & Soups

The well-designed lighting which was not too bright made the place very cozy & comfortable. The place is suitable for a romantic dining experience as evidenced by quite a number of couples dining there.
All the chinaware is Xenri-branded.

The brightly-lit main wall backdrop behind the sushi counter provides a modern & tasteful stark contrast to the mainly dark flooring and furniture.

TasteThe taste of the items is exquisite! But honestly, there are simply too many items to be had and still maintain the level of utility of when one first enters the restaurant.

Special mention has to be made for the oysters (both the Rockerfeller & Raw) as they are HUGE! I have not seen them this big before. Each of their shells are between 5-7 inches!
The other item worthy of mention is the baked whole salmon. The size of the salmon was also quite big – almost 4-foot long. The fish, although big, was superbly done as the moisture was still very much maintained intact although it was fully and thoroughly cooked. Various parts of the fish were sampled (from the tail end to the head) and it was consistently excellent.

Presentation
The items are all delicately made and presented. Please refer to the photos.
Makes one want to try everything that is available.
VarietyThere are just too many items and too much variety to be sampled in just 1 visit.
Value for Money
Very good value (but depending on what items one likes, more value for money especially so for those who love sashimi, oysters and the myriad types of seafood available)
Overall
Great food with good décor & ambience with an impressive spread of items to choose from, even for those who are finicky eaters.
Downside is that it’s quite hard to get a reservation to dine there.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Movie Review - Red Cliff I & II


Movie Title
Red Cliff I & II
Year
2008/2009
Genre
War Drama

Story
In 208 AD, Cao Cao, Prime Minster of Han Dynasty led a full-scale war on the kingdoms of Xu (in the west) and Wu (in the south) in a mission to unite all of China.

This is the latest take by John Woo (the most expensive film ever produced in Chinese movie history) on the classical Chinese War Epic – the Romance of the 3 Kingdoms, with the focus on The Battle of Red Cliff (hence the title). John Woo lets the audience understand who the major players of the movie are by taking the time to develop the multiple facets of their personalities (eg: learning that Zhou Yu was not only a master strategist at war but is also a renowned musician! The same applied to Zhuge Liang!) and steadily builds up the momentum of how the forces of the 3 armies were mobilized, culminating in the final epic battle at Red Cliff!

Altho’ the focus is more on Zhou Yu & Zhuge Liang, Sun Quan, the Prince of the Wu Kingdom, and the other legendary generals from Liu Bei’s camp are prominent supporting characters in the show:
- Zhao Zilong (who also recently had a movie: http://jmerb.blogspot.com/2009/01/movie-review-three-kingdoms.html)
- Zhao Yun
- Guan Yu
- Zhang Fei
Acting
Discounting a few rather awkward/over-the-top scenes, some injected elements of humor and a couple of rather illogical action sequences, the acting was very credible. The witty interaction between the 2 main War Strategists Zhou Yu (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) & Zhuge Liang (Takeshi Kaneshiro) juxtaposed against the villain Cao Cao (Fengyi Zhang) constitute my favorite parts of the show.
Additional Comments
Being unfamiliar with the original text, this cannot be said with certainty but John Woo had taken some liberties to include certain sequences that helped break the pace as the movies were interspersed with some lighter moments to give the audience a breather every now and then.

Also, it is hinted here that the main reason for Cao Cao’s war was his love for Zhou Yu’s wife - Xiao Qiao, whom Cao Cao considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world.

“Magnificent Epic” are the only words appropriate to describe these 2 movies (recommended to be viewed & enjoyed in 1-sitting). Combined, the 2 movies last about 4 hours & 30 minutes.
Overall
This movie has it all –
- Action
- Betrayal
- Battle of wits
- Full scale war
- Love
- Loyalty & Alliances
- Romance
- Suspense
- Appreciation of the arts
Highly recommended.

Rating: 8/10

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Comic Review - Thor 1-12

Title/Storyline
Thor 1-12
Publish Date
2008
Creative Team(s)
JM Straczynski, Oliver Coipel, Marko Djurjevic
Publisher
Marvel
Story
Thor is finally back (and so is Dr Donald Blake) after the final Ragnarok in the previous Thor series destroyed all things Asgardian. That was why he was not part of Civil War (only his clone appeared if you recall).

When Thor restores Asgard on Earth, he carefully executes his plan to restore only its “good” inhabitants but eventually, Loki was inadvertently freed. But he returns as a she (yup, you read that right) and she looks hot (and you will know why when you read #12 or in the Spoiler Section below)!

The story flows directly into Marvel’s first book that has an issue number as big as 600 – Thor 600!




Art
Oliver Coipel is a very good artist but I disliked how Thor was made to look like a primitive Neanderthal! Other than that, I loved his work here in the series. His artwork is very clean but jam-packed with details and subtle nuances of the characters.

Now, mark my words - Marko Djurjevic is a superstar in the making. His work on issues 7-8 was simply breath-taking. Reminiscent of Trevor Hairsine, Gary Frank, Ethan Van Sciver & Mike McKone’s finest work. His pencils are more detailed than Coipel’s.

Additional Comments
There were many things that I didn’t like about the new Thor series initially. I didn’t like the new armor, or the fact that Asgard is now floating over Oklahoma (!!). Thor was also made to look more like a Neanderthal in Coipel’s renditions than a Norse god.

Fortunately, the good things far out-weigh the negatives. JM is a genius! I absolutely loved how he took his time to weave an intricate tale that changes almost everything we thought we knew about the Asgardian lore. We learn more about Odin, Balder (who happens to also be Odin’s son!), Loki and how Loki had a hand in all these events we learn of only now. Having Loki come back as a woman using Lady Sif’s body is totally wicked and a stroke of genius!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Food Review - Zhen Wei Vegetarian House


NameZhen Wei Vegetarian House
Food
Vegetarian Chinese
Location
Behind the Main Road in Taman Connaught. Cheras. Right next to the UR My Pet House.



View Larger Map

Getting there
As you come from Jalan Cheras towards Mid Valley, this restaurant is located at the right side (ie: opposite side of the UCSI), vice versa. The shop is located behind the shops facing the main road.

ParkingThere are ample parking spaces around the shop-lots and also at the houses nearby.

ServiceThe wait staff is quick to attend to diners with the menu and immediately take your orders. You may also ask them for some recommended dishes if you are not a regular.

Ambience
It is a no-frills eatery with only the very basics but very clean, well-lit and well-kept. Taste
We had the following:

- Kon Choy Pai Kuat Tong (Pork Ribs in Dried Vege Soup)
- Choe Mai (Unpolished Brown Rice)
- Kangkung with Keiji (Water spinach sprinkled with Chinese wolfberries)
- Fried Tofu Bricks with White Fungus in Lemon Sauce - Deep Fried Abalone Mushrooms in Cheese Sauce and curry leaves
- Mixed Vege and Nuts in Yam Bowl

For vegetarian dishes, they were indeed tasty. However, in comparison to meat dishes, they may seem relatively more bland as the meat flavors are derived artificially. This is more pronounced with the soup and the tofu dishes than any of the other dishes. The Unpolished Brown Rice had a very rich texture that is so unique everyone ought to try it at least once. The Deep Fried Abalone Mushrooms were also exceptionally good as they were fresh from the kitchen – warm and crunchy but smothered with the “cheese” sauce which everyone loves.

Presentation
All the dishes are neatly presented on plastic plates.

VarietyThere is more than enough variety of dishes ranging from “meat” & “seafood” to the various creative forms of tofu to sate even the appetites of any non-vegetarian.


Value for Money
For all of the items that are listed above for 4 adults and 1 child, it set us back by about RM50. It’s not in the same price range of economy mixed rice but then again, this is an air-conditioned restaurant. Hence, it’s good velue.

Overall
A good place for some body-cleansing vegetarian meals in a clean and comfortable environment.