Transformers directed by Michael Bay

transformers.JPG

IMDb link 

I’ll admit, I spent more time playing with Legos than with Transformers, and saw more commercials for Transformers during Voltron than I actually spent watching the show.  But I didn’t go to this movie to see the toys coming to life.

I went to Transformers to see a fun summer movie.  The film did not disappoint.  Replete with special effects, it was a fun romp in the celluloid.  The battle scenes were intense and exciting, if a little choppy.  For example, it was very difficult to see how the transformations occurred in all but Bumblebee.  It would have been nice to have one of those in slow motion for dramatic effect.  The slow-motion desert scorpion was very well executed and added an element of “realism” to the CGI.

The jokes in the film weren’t very clever (like the leaky “lubricant” running joke, starting with the family dog), and the dialogue was hokey.  I didn’t mind when Optimus Prime had a few diatribes about honor and duty and all; it was in keeping with the original show.  But this movie didn’t know which audience to please: the thirtysomethings who wanted a throwback that included adult humor and adult language, or the younger kids who might buy the merchandise that’s freshly available.  There was too much adult content for me to want to take a child, but the movie was too childish for adults.

If you want to be entertained by a simple movie with blockbuster special effects, have fun with this one!

[rate 2.5]

3 Sisters Cafe in Broad Ripple – Indianapolis

After reading Nuvo’s latest “Best of Indianapolis” issue, we decided to try a new place. Of course, we both realized we’d been there before, but it had been years.

I ordered Bob, a cheese omelet with calico potatoes and sourdough toast; Carlton ordered the SOB, which was scrambled eggs filled with fresh vegetables, cilantro, and salsa on the side. I also ordered a smoothie of mango, pineapple, and lime. The omelet was fluffy and delicious, but all items on my plate was a little cold when it arrived at the table. The calico potatoes had sweetness and cinnamon that were tasty. The SOB was underwhelming: despite being very colorful, it had little flavor or kick, even with the accompanying salsa. We agreed that the generous four slices of sourdough toast per person were delicious.

3 Sisters is in a very old house, but was very clean. I did not see the restrooms. My water glass had a vague dishwater odor, but the plates and flatware were spotless.

Our server was friendly and attentive. She complimented my choice of smoothie and helped me select the right potato side dish.

Unsupervised children will be given espresso and a free kittenThe atmosphere is relaxed, with local artwork on display throughout the brightly painted house-tunred-cafe setting. Sadly, the words in the painting of which I took a picture are illegible. It says “Unattended children will be given espresso and a free kitten.” I laughed out loud. Other quirky paintings liven the atmosphere as well. It’s a bustling, slightly noisy cafe with indoor and outdoor seating. The creaky floors and antique hardware add to the homey atmosphere.

The prices were somewhat reasonable, considering the large portions. However, I don’t equate large portions with value. The smoothie was $5, which was a bit pricey but was the most delicious part of my meal, so it was worth it.

6360 Guilford Ave
Indianapolis, IN
317.257.5556

 

[rate 3.5]

I Joined a Webring!

I saw the link on Amy’s blog, and thought it would be good to link with my community. They even posted a nice little intro for me. I have surfed around on the ring a bit, and already see some great blogs that will help keep me doing fun stuff in Indianapolis!! You can also use the links posted in my sidebar to surf on your own. But, in less than 30 minutes, I found these:
Beer stuff:
http://www.hoosierbeergeek.blogspot.com/

Wine stuff:
http://www.winecanine.com/

Sports stuff:
http://worstsportsblogever.blogspot.com/

All include things to do in the city. Enjoy!

The Pope Does It Again

fishes.JPGWhen the new pope was initially announced, I was disappointed because of his age. I felt that he wouldn’t have time to make any impact. But, in his brief papacy, he’s proven to me that he’s not just a figurehead. He’s challenging the catholic Church and religious leaders of other faiths on a regular basis to – gasp! – use their brains.

In this article, Benedict XVI challenges not just the evolution/creationism debate, but also shows compassion for the Earth in general. His use of intelligent discourse really challenges me. I admire that he sees his power as a chance to do good things…so many have not.

I’ve disliked the papacy for many years, and was very conflicted about its dangers, such as the infallibility decree. But now, I’m being challenged on new intellectual and spiritual topics, and it helps me resolve some the discord between my scientific and spiritual needs. The pope is calling for people to ask intelligent questions and for faith not to be blind.

I like it.

Ichiban Restaurant in Greenwood Indiana

I think we accidentally found Ichiban while we were waiting for our tires at the tire shop. Please don’t be turned away by the fact it’s in a strip mall!

Ichiban has some classic rolls and some inventive sushi presentations. The non-sushi menu has a lot of great items too. Both menus have lots of vegetarian selections, and they even have a selection called “cooked sushi” for the less adventurous or immune-deficient customer. I have never tried something that I didn’t like.

The service varies; sometimes it is exceptional, sometimes it is a little slow. I recommend sitting at the bar to watch the master do his work.

The restaurant is clean; I’ve never used the restrooms.

The ambience is nice… though I wish they’d remove the television. During our last visit, our party was large enough to warrant on of the special rooms for six or more. The television was out of sight and the atmosphere was very fun and private.

The sushi competes with much more expensive restaurants for flavor and presentation. The price? At least 30% less than other Indianapolis sushi spots. Thank goodness a great restaurant can be found on the South side!

8265 US 31 South
317-883-1888

[rate 4]

Elements Restaurant in Indianapolis

Ever since the Indianapolis Monthly article naming Elements as Indianapolis’s best restaurant, I’ve wanted to go. It took four years, but I finally did.

The menu, which changes frequently, is very short and focuses on fresh flavors and allowing the ingredients to shine. I ordered a lightly dressed whitefish accented with miso and shiitake mushrooms. Carlton had the salmon with steak fries. Both were elegant and understated. The fish was cooked perfectly and the light accompaniments enhanced each bite. The fries were a bit overdone. For dessert, we had the vanilla bean ice cream with warm mission figs and the oatmeal cookies with espresso whipped cream. Dessert was even better than the main course but repeated the same theme: choose only the finest ingredients and simplify the accoutrements. I looked at the wine list and saw several great, mid-range wines and a few newcomers. I was glad to see that they didn’t simply have expensive wine for the sake of its expense.

The restaurant is well-maintained. The ladies’ room only held one, which could be an issue on a busier night. It was clean and equipped well.

Service by the hostess was very good. She was attentive and gracious. Our server could have been a little more gracious; I had the feeling we were not his favorite customers. We didn’t order appetizers or wine so maybe he knew we wouldn’t be spending a great deal (but I don’t know if my perception is true or not).

The atmosphere is great. The original artwork is gorgeous and lush with reds and browns. I liked that several different artists were used; it provided visual variety while keeping the tonal theme. Tables were separate enough for private conversations. We never had to compete with the music’s volume, either. The quiet atmosphere led us to feel more relaxed at the end of the meal.

Prices were as expected for this type of fare. I will definitely go back to experience Elements again.

[rate 4.5]

My Tax Dollars at Work: Obtaining a Construction Permit in Marion County

I want to build a screened porch on the back of my house. I’ve always loved sitting on a porch during the cool of the evening. It’s dining al fresco minus the bugs, too.

So, after finding a great person to help build it, I had to obtain three permits to begin construction. Why three and not one? That’s just the beginning.

I tried to use the online permit service available. I spent several hours working on the application process and trying to ensure that everything was correct and legal. I found the FAQ online and it seemed like I just didn’t have everything I needed. The FAQ stated, in part (see number 25 in the list):

Permit applications can be obtained in our offices here when you submit for a review or online at
www.indygov.org/dmd/permits Inspection contact and scheduling information will be included on the
back of the permits.

Well, I tried to type in the link referenced and the webpage didn’t exist. I started to feel uneasy and thought I should give the office a call. I was handed off to voicemail, but the woman did call me the next day. She told me that I’d have to come to the office for that permit. So why does the FAQ state that I can do it online? Who knows. I also reviewed over the phone with her what I would need to bring with me in order to obtain the permit. I was lacking a site map, but she told me that site maps were available to print in their office.

I arrived at the office a little after noon, armed with all of my paperwork. As I signed the sign-in sheet, the desk clerk took a preliminary look at my paperwork. I asked if I had everything I needed to obtain the permit. He looked over everything and even pulled up the site map on his computer; he said that the map was sized too large to print, but I could “sweet talk” the permit granter into printing it as 11″x17.” He wrote down the ID number for me so the permit granter could print it when I met with him. Then I asked about the wait. He pointed at a guy standing next to the desk and said, “he’s next in line and he’s been here since nine AM.”

I sat to wait. The ambience was lees than thrilling. The hard plastic chairs were unforgiving and the building was dilapidated. I actually left in the pouring rain just to sit in my car for a few minutes and be comfortable. I made phone calls, to do lists, and tried to stay occupied. Finally, at a little after 4:00PM, my name was called. I sat down with the permit granter and tried to put on a brave, smiling face; I’m sure he deals with plenty of crabby people.

He reviewed what I had and told me that I didn’t have everything I needed. He told me the site map was impossible to print and that there were other documents I lacked. Please keep in mind: I read their website, talked to the permit “expert” on the phone, and spoke with the desk clerk upon arrival. I started to say, “you mean I have to come back?” As I said it, I thought of having to endure another four-hour wait the next day. I was tired and knew I just couldn’t do it. My hormones surged, and tears welled in my eyes. (As a side note, I hate crying in public; it seems weak and silly, especially in such a non-life-threatening drama as this.)

The permit granter felt for me, and spent the next hour helping me put together the documents I needed from each source. We laughed a bit and he told me how proud he is to be a civil servant, but that it’s not easy. People give him a hard time all day and it’s a thankless job. I apologized for having incomplete documents; I told him how hard I’d tried to have everything ready, but the three sources I’d tried were simply wrong. After all his hard work on my behalf, I shook his hand and thanked him for helping me.

To pay my bill, I had to take a receipt to a cashier. Even that was difficult. It took the cashier a full five minutes to process the charges on the slip, even though the total was at the bottom and I was using a credit card. Imagine it taking that long to ring one item at a grocery store!!

So after five grueling hours, I walked away with all three of the permits I needed. The whole process had been a complete nightmare except for one hard-working guy.  There are only four permit granters for all of Marion County.  That’s only about 32 permits daily, based on my hour-long experience, for all of the million residents of Marion County.

Why isn’t there an easier way to obtain these permits?  Besides the horrendous waste of my time, I also shelled out about $330.  This kind of inefficiency and overpricing is what economists would characterize as a product switch (pardon my lack of knowledge of the exact term).  Basically, if the cost of televisions skyrockets beyond consumers’ reach, they will not buy TVs anymore; they will switch to books or movies.  The permit process is similar because for that much money and time, many people will forego the permit and just pay someone to build it without a permit.  Creating obstacles to compliance is the easiest way to encourage people to break the law.

The moral of the story is: if you want a permit, pack a bag.  And most of all, we need LESS GOVERNMENT.

Ruchi Royal Cuisine of India in Indianapolis

I’ve shopped at the Indian grocer next door, but never tried the restaurant. It was 6:30PM on a Saturday night and we were the only ones in the restaurant. I was worried! However, I shouldn’t have been.

The food was absolutely delicious. There was a very large, varied menu to suit many types of preferences. A complimentary appetizer of flatbread and three distinctly different sauces whetted our palates (the spicy cilantro sauce was the best). I ordered a chickpea curry and Carlton ordered a chicken curry. Both were so delicious that we wanted to keep eating after we were full. The rice was fragrant and cooked well, except for a few lumps.

The restaurant was clean; the restrooms were tolerable but definitely needed an upgrade. The soap dispenser was uncovered and the commode’s hand rails were detached and sitting on the floor.

Our server was attentive but not always helpful. He recommended a good beer, but when I asked for a vegetarian dish selection, he simply listed all of the dishes on the menu. He was very good about not rushing us but being available.

The decor was very sparse and the music seemed to be a CD player behind the host stand. While the ambience was lacking, the delicious food and reasonable prices are enough cause to visit Ruchi again and again.

To see what a real food critic thinks, click here.

Located at: 2318 East Stop 11 Road

[rate 3.5]