- Chantez et vous trouverez votre chanson -

Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.
     -George Bernard Shaw

It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves- in finding themselves.
      -Andre Gide

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Strangers

The Strangers = hard not to pee your pants, must squint and barely open one eye to watch, afraid to be home alone for the next week, sleep with the lights and TV on, scary.

I  actually saw The Strangers opening weekend, on June 2nd, but I have been mentally dealing with it since and unable to write until now, haha.

The plot is simple enough.  A couple (well played by Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman) retreats back to the family's house in the woods after a fight only to be terrorized and brutally tortured by a group of masked strangers that takeover their house.  

I think the horror actually lies in the simplicity.  This could happen.  There were no elaborate special effects, and the movie didn't have much dialogue.  But, the fact remains that these two were victims from the start.

The movie sets it up for you and shows the ending first.  The audience knowsss the outcome, making it that much more difficult to watch the movie play out.  The masked strangers play a senseless and sadistic game of cat and mouse, and caught off guard in the middle of nowhere, the couple is literally helpless.

The silly and superficial reason it scared me so much?  

Those freaking masks!!!  The blank faces of a potato sack mask, a dollface, and a pin-up girl will haunt your dreams, no kidding. And if this movie really does well in its theater run, I'll bet money that the potato sack mask will be a popular lazy Halloween costume for the next few years (I mean the Scream mask was hot for a good 5 years.  Hell I even saw people last year still rocking it.).

The deeper, philosophical (yes, I really did use the word, "philosophical" for a horror movie review) reason it scared me so much?

This was just one more indication that if people are really twisted enough in the head, it's really simple to plan an act and victimize people.  It happened in the school shootings at Columbine and Virginia Tech.  It happened on 9/11.  It happens everyday when people plot and break into people's homes and places of business.  Scary.  That is why I couldn't go home alone after the movie and had to sit with my friend and watch hours of SATC to eradicate bad thoughts floating through my head.

This movie did its job.  It scared the living daylights out of me.  I'd even venture to say that this was the best horror movie I've seen in a long time.

I always know I've found a good movie if I'm still pondering it days afterward... The Strangers was on my mind for about a week.  I've heard that the movie was inspired in part by the Charles Manson murders...another creepy twist.  

Anyone know anything about how the Manson murders connect to the story?  The CSI, Criminal Minds, and SVU-lover in me would love to hear.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Traditions Pub

Traditions, where everybody knows your name.

I'm actually surprised I haven't written about this place yet.  Traditions is the most well-known St. John's college bar, and as you might expect, I spent the majority of my formative college years there.  But, this bar is more than a typical college bar to me.

To me, this bar means family.  

Shadows of my past - of who I was when I arrived at school from Pittsburgh to who I have become now - lurk in every corner of Traditions.  I grew up there.  Ohhhh if those walls could talk. 

During drunken silly nights, we made fools of ourselves in that bar and somehow still liked one another enough (hungover) the next day to become friends for a lifetime.

On that crowded upstairs dance floor, I first kissed the boy that would become my boyfriend for the next 4 years.  Granted, it may have been a drunken mini make-out session (overshare?  I mean you know it happens all the time), but it never-the-less began a relationship that changed my life.

My junior year of college I began bartending at Traditions to afford my off-campus apartment, and the bar become even more like my second home.  The manager, Raj took myself and my friends under his wing, so to speak, and made sure that every weekend we had the sloppy, foolish, college "time of our lives."  And it was.

See, this place is more than your average bar.  Raj just may be the best host I've ever met, and no matter whether you're a college kid or a regular from the neighborhood, you'll get to know him, the owner PJ and our crew of bartenders.

Birthday parties, dart leagues, Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas parties (aka Raj-mas!), graduation parties - we do it all for our patrons.  Loyalty is sort of what keeps this place alive.

Stop by sometime and check us out.  We're a friendly bunch... except on those packed weekends during the college school year.  Then we might just throw you a drink and move it along.  Hey, I never said we were perfect.  If it's busy, you're on your own to find friends. ;)

In summation, who needs Cheers when you can have Traditions?

Traditions Pub
84-28 164th St.
Jamaica, NY 11432

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Austin's Steak and Ale House

Sometimes, you need a good steak.  And sometimes your local Outback just won't cut it.

Now that's not to trash Outback-- I'm a big fan.  It's that when your mouth is watering for meattt, you're not always in the mood for the long lines, standard menus and cheesy waiter lines that come with the territory of a popular chain steakhouse.

In those situations, it's good to have a local steakhouse, and I've found mine.

Austin's Steak and Ale House, located in Kew Gardens on well-known Austin Street has a tasty menu that covers all ground on America fare: seafood, salads, soups, poultry, pastas, burgers, and of course steak (and lots of it).

In addition, their nightly specials add an extra twist of flair to the menu, and the Filet Mignon and Jumbo Scrimp special I had was delish.  As was my friend's Horseradish-crusted Salmon special that I was lucky enough to acquire the leftovers of.

The decor is classic and tasteful -- it feels very homey in a good way.  Good time, good friends, good steak.  No big complaints here.

- near the Long Island Railroad station
- nice menu variation
- good specials
- extensive beer menu and drink list

- mediocre waiter (he may have been new...hopefully)
- a surcharge or 2 that didn't make sense
- not all beers listed on the menu were available

Next time the wait at Outback is 45 minutes even with your "call ahead," try Austin Steak and Ale House for a nice and juicy steak.

Austin Steak and Ale House
82-70 Austin St.
Kew Gardens, NY 11415

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