Thursday, August 19, 2010

You and Me and Every Game I Own

I spend a lot of money on video games. Like, a lot of money. Too. Much. Because of this, and because Sony and GE stocks have not been maturing as well as Bernie Madoff assured me they would when I sent him that huge sum of cash through Western Union, I have decided to limit my game buying to ONE (1) game per year. It should be noted that I have already purchased my one game for the year, Blizzard's Starcraft II. I haven't been able to put it down since. It should also be noted that next year is going to be tough, as there are THREE (or possibly FOUR) games coming out which I will be unable to resist: Star Wars: The Old Republic, Diablo III, Portal 2, and possibly From Dust. Maybe I can make a "gift-cards from Christmas are O.K. to spend on games" clause... hmmm...

The point is, instead of lining the pockets of Big Game (kinda like Big Oil or Big Pharma...), I will dust of my Atari, get my lungs ready for NES cartridge-blowing, put fresh batteries in my Gameboy, and make sure my lunchbox er... Gamecube is plugged in, as I attempt to dive into my forgotten vault and play those gems which have been patiently waiting to be played with for years.

Now, I'm a goal oriented person, and because I will need every reason to play my older clunkier games instead of buying newer flashier ones, I have decided that my new project (in addition to reviewing French Dips and watching crappy movies, and another, more intellectually focused project in the works) will consist of me writing a little synopsis about my memories of the game growing up, playing and beating my old games (or unlocking all achievements, or whatever other challenge I decide to torture myself with) and penning a little review about how good the game is. For games I have beaten: Tough. They must be played again. No exceptions. If I cut corners and cheat, I'm afraid I will feel unaccomplished when I complete the final game (which should be around the time I turn 60).

This process will take variable amounts of time depending on the game; Super Mario Bros. 3 is going to obviously take less time to beat than getting the 300+ achievements on Team Fortress 2. Nevertheless I will take it upon myself as a project, nay, my duty to beat these games, to accomplish everything there is to accomplish in them, and report back to you.

And so, without further ado, here is the list of every game I own, and every game I will play. This list does not include free downloaded software nor games I have on emulators, as I could potentially own thousands of games if these were included. Also, no MMO's will be included, as there is no completion to be obtained in them.


Game List:


Yoshi (1992)
Double Dribble (1987)
Dr. Mario (1990)
Sesame Street ABC & 123 (1991)
Super Spike V'ball (1990)
Super Mario Bros. (1985)/Duck Hunt (1984)
Super Mario Bros. 2 (1988)
Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990)
Blades of Steel (1988)
Chip 'N Dale: Rescue Rangers 2 (1994)
Final Fantasy (1990)
Tom & Jerry (1991)

Atari 2600:

Asteroids (1979)
Adventure (1979)
Combat (1977)
Missle Command (1980)
Swordquest: Earthworld (1982)
Pac-man (1982)
Skiing (1980)
Space Invaders (1979)
Night Driver (1978)
Yars' Revenge (1981)
Star Raiders

Nintendo 64:

Pokémon Stadium (2000)
Mario Golf
Snowboard Kids
Goldeneye 007
Mario Kart 64
Star Wars Episode I Races
Paper Mario
Quest 64
Mario Tennis
Star Wars Shadows of the Empire
The World Is Not Enough 007
The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time
Starfox 64
Donkey Kong 64
Super Mario 64
Dr. Mario 64
Star Wars Rogue Squadron
Diddy Kong Racing
The Legend of Zelda Majora's Mask
Yoshi Story


Wii Sports
Wii Fit
Super Mario Galaxy
Mario Kart Wii
Super Mario Bros. Wii
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Fishing Master
Wii Play
Wario Ware Smooth Moves
The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess


Time Splitters 2
DDRMAX Dance Dance Revolution
Metal Gear Solid 2 Substance
Guitar Hero 2
Lord of the Rings Return of the King


Assassin's Creed
Resistance Fall of Man
Resistance 2
Lord of the Rings Conquest


Legend of Zelda Collectors Edition
Soul Calibur 2
Star Wars bounty Hunter
Animal Crossing
Super Mario Sunshine
Legend of Zelda Wind Waker
Gauntlet Dark Legacy
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles
Star Wars Rogue Leader
Paper Mario
Star Wars Rebel Strike
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Tales of Symphonia
Starfox Adventures
Sonice Adventure 2 Battle
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2
Metroid Prime 2 Echos
Metroid Prime


Zelda Oracle of Ages
Zelda Oracle of Seasons
Zelda Link's Awakening DX
Advance Wars 2 Black Hole Rising
Pokemon Pinball
Advance Wars
Metroid Fusion
Pokemon Gold
Pokemon Red
Pokemon Blue
Harvest Moon GBC
Pokemon Trading Card Game
Empire Strikes Back
Kirby's Dream Land
F-1 Race
Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3
Donkey Kong Land
Conkers Pocket Tales
Mario Golf
Toy Story
Wheel of Fortune
Super Mario Bros. Deluxe
Super Return of the Jedi
Tiny Toons Adventure Wacky Sports
Star Wars
Super Mario Land 2 6 Golden Coins
The Pagemaster
Super Mario Land


Final Fantasy Tactics A2
Final Fantasy 3
Super Mario 64 DS
Kirby Squeak Squad
Final Fantasy Chocobo Tales


Black and White
Call of Duty Modern Warfare
Sins of a Solar Empire
Company of Heroes
Caesar IV
Carsar II
Rome Total War
Final Fantasy VII
World of Warcraft
Kings Quest 1-7
Half-Life 2
The Movies
Starcraft (and Broodwar)
Starcraft 2
Warcraft 2
Warcraft 3 (and Frozen Throne)
Diablo II
Medieval Total War
Empire Total War
Mass Effect
Mass Effect 2
Secret of Monkey Island
Team Fortress 2


List will be updated as I find more hidden away. Games will be played in no particular order, only whatever I feel like playing in a particular week.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

IMDb Bottom 100 Countdown:
#99 - Meet the Spartans (2008)

In 2006, a movie came out that looked so epic, every high school sophomore with a Y chromosome felt obligated to see it. 300, although it had epic music and cool visuals, wasn't the amazing movie that many, myself included, thought it would be. Still, it was a solid hack-and-slash flick with a historical setting, and the action was reason enough for me to buy it on Blu ray when it came out.

Fast forward two years, and Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, makers of such hilarious classics Airplane and Monty Python and the Holy Grail... wait, that wasn't them? Oh right, these are the guys who wrote the Scary Movie series, Date Movie, Epic Movie, and later Disaster Movie, the latter two which I have to watch in this countdown. Anyways, Friedberg and Seltzer had the bright idea to write a movie chalk full of pop culture references and parodies the movie 300. These guys are geniuses of comedy, how could this be on the Bottom 100? Am I right? Guys? Guys...?

Plot Synopsis

If you've seen 300, then you know the basic plot of this movie: Boy becomes king, king goes south into the sea... er wait, I guess Thermopylae is south of Sparta now... king goes south to Thermopylae, king break-dance fights some Persians, gay jokes are made, Xerxes turns into a Transformer and falls on top of Leonidas. Not the Battle of Thermopylae you remember reading in Herodotus? Yeah, it's a parody, so I guess you just have to go with it.

My Reaction

My friends once told me they rented this movie and couldn't make it thought the first 15 minutes. I now can see why. Almost nothing in this movie is funny. While some bad movies are so horrible that they become funny, this movie does not fall into that category.

Almost every joke in the movie comes in three different forms: The pop culture reference, the callow slapstick comedy, and, if all else fails, the swear bear.
The pop culture references were pretty awful. But the movie wouldn't be all that bad if it weren't for the reliance on juvenile humor every time they couldn't figure out how to make an American Idol reference, and the "Oh shit!" if even that didn't work.

For example, for the very first joke of the movie, a man is inspecting babies to make sure they aren't deformed, the same way 300 starts. He is holding an infant, and opens to swaddling cloths to reveal a mini Shrek, who says "Ah, are you my mama?" which MIGHT be considered funny by some, and I seriously considered laughing. However, he follows up with "'Cause I'm ready to suckle a teat!" and then proceeds to launch green projectile ooze-vomit all over the person holding him. Lawl. As you can see, the joke might have been somewhat funny if they had just left well enough alone. In fact, without all the immature, puerile humor, this movie might could have been a solid 3 or 4 out of 10. But of course, not a minute could go by without reference to pee pee, poopie, boobies, pukey, or other jokes that would only make a maladjusted ten year old laugh.

Also, the girl who played Paris Hilton/Ephialtes (along with many other characters) looked a lot like Ashely Tisdale. Just an observation.

As it stands, the movie was probably a 2/10, less than its current 2.4 rating on IMDb. It was painful to watch, and I kept shaking my mouse to check how much time was left I had to check Karla every five minutes to make sure she wasn't sleeping, because if I'm going to suffer through it, I sure as hell am taking someone with me. While it didn't make me want to never watch another crappy movie, I sure don't look forward to watching Epic Movie and Disaster Movie when their time comes. I will probably need some back up.

As an additional note, one thing that I found interesting was the fact that, although Carmen Electra, mainstay of Playboy features, starred as Queen Margo, there was absolutely no nudity in this movie. I'm not saying this was an issue, it was just interesting that a parody movie that relied heavily on booby jokes had less nudity than the source material. I guess they knew that they would have a hard enough time making their money back with a PG-13 rating, and that an R would have made the movie a financial flop. Interestingly, this movie actually made over $50 million dollars more than it cost to produce. If that doesn't make you lose faith in America, nothing will.

Best Line:

[As the Spartans are pushing the Persians into the sea]

Unidentified Persian: *Wilhelm Scream*

(Sorry, I can't find a video of this)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

IMDb Bottom 100 Countdown:
#100 - Howling III (1987)

As this is the first time I have done one of these Bottom 100 video reviews, I thought I should lay out a quick something-something of what to expect. I will try to start each post with an introduction, then a short(?) plot synopsis, my thoughts on the movie, and my favorite line or lines. Pretty straight forward, lets take the plunge!


For the inaugural entry of the IMDb Bottom 100 Countdown, I decided to treat Karla to what I thought would be a fairly standard crappy horror movie on a Saturday evening. After all, what is more romantic than marsupials, especially anthropomorphic ones?

However, life is never that simple, and I quickly realized that this movie was going to be a wild ride. My first suspicion came when I saw that Howling III was almost two hours long and I was certain as soon as I was treated to the first three scenes, all of which had nothing to do with the others. I would really love to concisely describe what the plot of this movie entailed, but it was so long and jumpy, that I have to be rather long winded to have anything make even the remotest sense.

Plot Synopsis

Let me preface this section by sharing the Plot Summary of Howling III, as found on Wikipedia:

"Howling III: The Marsupials is about a scientist involved with a cult of Australian werewolves via his love interest. The plot line is based on the premise of Australian werewolves descended from the now extinct Thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger, a marsupial carnivore which was hunted to extinction by Australian farmers to protect their sheep."


The movie begins with black and white footage of Aborigines from Australia poking a tied up werewolf to death. The camera zooms out and we find that this movie is being played in Professor Harry Beckmeyer's Anthropology classroom at a university in California, as he talks about his grandfather filming this scene in the early 1900's, never being heard from since.

Quickly the scene changes to some compound in the Australian Outback as some dishhevled woman named Jerboa is told by some other rough looking woman that she must pay homage to some guy. Yeah this part was all pretty vague and I had no idea what was going on until later in the movie, but I'll explain that as it comes. The man she has to pay homage to licks her neck, leading him to receiving a knee in the huevos and Jerboa running away.

After many transitional scenes, Jerboa is sleeping in a park in Sydney, where she is chased by some suave looking 20-something named Donny. Donny chases her down and tells her that he is a casting director on some horror movie (Shape Shifter Part 8, to be exact). To make a long (100 minutes, really?) story short, she acts a little for the movie, hints that she is a were-something, has the sweatiest sex ever with Donny, he notices she is a little hairier than your average 20-something hottie, she goes to the cast party, changes into a were-something, gets studied at a hospital, and is abducted and taken back to the Outback by some of her were-something sisters dressed as nuns.

Now, I realize that is a lot to take in, and the whole time you are watching you are being thrown into new plot elements without having any idea who people are, what their motivations are, or why they are so sweaty. The story so far sounds like it could be an entire movie, doesn't it? Well, that was just the first 20 minutes or so.

Ok, let's see if I can make this as simple as possible. A Russian ballerina defects to Australia, she's a werewolf, she's searching for that guy with the bruised cahones, whose name is apparently Thylo. It turns out he is the leader of a clan of Lycanthropes, although technically they are were-Tasmanian wolves, and the Russian ballerina is a standard run-of-the-mill werewolf. She's looking to do it like they do on the Discovery Channel with Thylo, because all were-people can do it with all other were-people, whether they are wolves or tigers or lions, all of which are mentioned in the movie. Oh, and these were-people change when they think about it, or are angry, or are bombarded by flashing lights. Eventually all the were-people, after being studied by some scientists, including Proffessor Beckmeyer and his sidekick Professor Sharp, escape back to the Outback. They are hunted by the military, who see them as a threat, while Professor Beckmeyer tries to convince them it is better for science if they are studied. Professor Sharp seems confused, as he sometimes says that the were-people should be killed, and sometimes is the voice of reason and humanity towards them.

Eventually you find Jerboa is pregnant (were-people and humans can get it on too), and you get see a were-Tasmanian tiger birthing scene, complete with birthing fluids and a small marsupial fetus crawling out of her vagina and into her pouch. Well she finds Donny, who was looking for her, and they run away into the Outback with the help of their Aboriginal friend Kendi, who I think is also a were-something. He dies while killing some hunters, Thylo and Jerboa apparently make up off-screen from whatever fight they were having which required a ball smashing, Thylo dies while hunting the Men in Black or something, Beckmeyer falls in love with the Russian, Beckmeyer/Russian ballerina and Donny/Jerboa live in the Outback for a while and have a few children, and the plot seems to wrap up. Then Jerboa and Donny move to California and change their name, become famous Hollywood bigwigs. 15 years later, Beckmeyer and his Ruskie move out from the Outback, and are watching some futuristic awards show where Jerboa wins an award. As she gives her speech, many flash bulbs off as photographers take her picture, and she turns into a werewolf, scaring everyone in the audience and the award host, who is wearing glasses even Elton John would avoid. Beckmeyer watches his TV in horror as this is happening, and somewhere, in an unknown part of the country, Professor Sharp is watching the same thing unfold, sitting in a dark room and laughing his ass off. Fin.

As you can see, the plot is a little more complex than the big-wigs in Wikipedia's ivory tower would have you believe.

My Reaction

If you are lost, then you feel exactly how I felt for about 90 of the 100 minutes in this film. It wasn't as though the plot was random or made no sense at the end, it was just that you were thrown into the water and asked to swim before you knew even the basics about any of the characters. Now this might work good for one of them new-fangled artsy-fartsy movies, but for a movie that is supposed to be a campy horror flick, even cursory information about the characters and their motivations would have been helpful.

Now overall, I thought that this movie was pretty bad, but not Bottom 100 material (and in fact it longer is on the IMdb list). Sure it was cheesy and a little boring at times, but the plot was cohesive and some of the people in the movie were decent actors. Maybe not Kendi, but then again he was the best part of the entire movie.

There was however one major problem. I had a sense throughout the film that it was self-aware, that it knew that it was a B-list horror film. There are references to crappy horror films everywhere in the movie, from Shape Shifters Part 8, the film Donny is a casting director for, to the cheesy werewolf film Donny takes Jerboa to before he brings her back to his sweatshop. There are also several parts in the movie where the fourth wall is broken, such as when Beckmeyer looks at the camera and asks "What is that?" and is answered "Oh, that's nothing, we are just recording this for watching later." Hur hur, you so funny screenwriters. There is also a scene where Beckmeyer is talking about wanting to talk to a Soviet in order to learn more about Soviet werewolves, and then opens a paper and it says the Soviet ballerina has defected to Australia. As if a ballerina knows anything about werewolves. Anyway, his associate Professor Sharp says "Huh, isn't that convenient, you were just talking about Soviets and then you read this." My sides were literally splitting after this line. Right.

It seems apparent to me that this movie set out from the start to be a campy horror flick. But all of this off-beat self-referential humor just seems out of place in a movie that isn't nearly as B-listy as Marabunta or Abominable. It's as though the writers finished the script and said to themselves 'Oh no, this actually isn't half bad! We have to make sure we let people know this is an awful horror movie by references to the B-horror genre and out-of-place humor!' Maybe they were trying to make it a satire, but forgot to remember Swift's First Rule: Satires are only funny if people are eating babies.

Without the ridiculous Australian humor, and maybe if the scenes and editing were a little more cohesive, the movie could have been a solid 5, but as it stands, Howling III is a solid 4 out of 10. This is higher than the 2.5/10 it currently has on IMDb, but I feel the movie was decent enough to deserve better, and certainly good enough not to be one of the worst 100 movies of all time. Unfortunately, this does little to cure me of my ailment... Meet the Spartans, here I come.

Best Line

[Kendi, an old Aborigine man, lies obviously wounded on a precipice after having changed back from his were-Tasmanian Wolf form. Jerboa approaches and tries to comfort Kendi.]

Jerboa: You'll turn into a river Kendi, and then a rainbow, and then you'll be a mountain.
Kendi [emotionlessly]: No way. I'm just gonna die.

YouTube link (1:20):

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Worst Movies of All Time: The IMDb Bottom 100

Let me preface this post by stating the have a disease. A horribly debilitating disease known as Malosisomatitis. Can't find it at WebMD? Well, basically, its an abnormal swelling of a tumor in my brain's mal gland. Now you say you can't find mal gland in WebMD either? Never heard mention of it on House or Grey's Anatomy? Well the mal gland controls the human reflex to revolting things, sending out chemical signals that tell the body to avoid anything that might be detrimental to one's health, such as watching too many crappy movies. It is because of the mal gland that the Star Wars Holdiay Special was only shown once on TV. The swelling of my mal gland has caused the opposite of the intended effect to occur; I absolutely love crappy movies. Malosisomatitis has made my brain so warped that I would rather watch The Room than watch The Godfather.

There is no cure for Malosisomatitis.

It is for this reason that I have decided to try an experimental treatment, one so crazy that it will either cure me of my love for C-movies, or kill me in the process (or you know, I'll just stay the same). This revolutionary and daring treatment, known as the Mystery Science 3000 regimen, is to watch every one of the Internet Movie Database's Bottom 100 movies. You heard me right. Every one. Maybe, with so many awful movies stored in my memory, My mal gland will finally kick in. It's a risk I'm willing to take.

Because Miley Cyrus is still acting and George Lucas is still making Indiana Jones movies (but here's to hoping that the 2011 live-action Star Wars show kicks ass), the Bottom 100 is not as static. It is the same reason why the Top 250 isn't static because Will Smith is still alive. Because of the ever-changing nature of the list, I will review the movies, in order from worse to worst, as they stand on this day, April 4th, in the 2010th year of our Lord, Annie Domino.

The list, as it stands at this point in time, is:

100. Howling III (1987)
99. Meet the Spartans (2008)
98. Marci X (2003)
97. Bolero (1984)
96. Daddy Day Camp (2007)
95. Kazaam (1996)
94. Blackwoods (2002)
93. It's Pat (1994)
92. Levottomat 3 (2004)
91. .com for Murder (2002)
90. Büyü (2004)
89. Gigli (2003)
88. Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 (2000)
87. Anus Magillicutty (2003)
86. Alien from L.A. (1988)
85. Ed (1996)
84. Hababam sinifi 3,5 (2006)
83. Araf (2006)
82. The Smokers (2000)
81. Alone in the Dark (2005)
80. Love in Paris (1997)
79. Phat Girlz (2006)
78. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
77. Simon Sez (1999)
76. Nine Lives (2002)
75. Baby Geniuses (1999)
74. Cool as Ice (1991)
73. Epic Movie (2007)
72. Mitchell (1975)
71. American Ninja V (1993)
70.In the Mix (2005)
69. Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (1996)
68. 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain (1998)
67. Demon Island (2002)
66. Son of the Mask (2005)
65. Chairman of the Board (1998)
64. Ein Toter hing im Netz (1960)
63. Leonard Part 6 (1987)
62. Laserblast (1978)
61. Snowboard Academy (1996)
60. Car 54, Where Are You? (1994)
59. Troll 2 (1990)
58. Feel the Noise (2007)
57. Santa with Muscles (1996)
56. Glitter (2001)
55. House of the Dead (2003)
54. The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!? (1964)
53. Space Mutiny (1988)
52. Eegah (1962)
51. Anne B. Real (2003)
50. Zeiten ändern Dich (2010)
49. Surf School (2006)
48. Tangents (1994)
47. Going Overboard (1989)
46. L'uomo puma (1980)
45. Santa Claus (1959)
44. Soultaker (1990)
43. Keloglan kara prens'e karsi (2006)
42. The Hottie & the Nottie (2008)
41. The Barbaric Beast of Boggy Creek, Part II (1985)
40. Ator l'invincibile 2 (1984)
39. Dünyayi Kurtaran Adam'in oglu (2006)
38. Crossover (2006)
37. The Creeping Terror (1964)
36. The Tony Blair Witch Project (2000)
35. Who's Your Caddy? (2007)
34. Die Hard Dracula (1998)
33. Girl in Gold Boots (1968)
32. The Wild World of Batwoman (1966)
31. The Maize: The Movie (2004)
30. Stjerner uden hjerner (1997)
29. The Apocalypse (2007)
28. Zodiac Killer (2005)
27. Los nuevos extraterrestres (1983)
26. The Hillz (2004)
25. Disaster Movie (2008)
24. From Justin to Kelly (2003)
23. Hobgoblins (1988)
22. Kis Vuk (2008)
21. The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)
20. Troppo belli (2005)
19. Pledge This! (2006)
18. Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders (1996)
17. Dis - en historie om kjærlighet (1995)
16. Emret komutanim: Sah mat (2007)
15. Track of the Moon Beast (1976)
14. Zombie Nation (2004)
13. Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag (2007)
12. Fat Slags (2004)
11. The Final Sacrifice (1990)
10. Zaat (1975)
9. Ben & Arthur (2002)
8. Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
7. The Starfighters (1964)
6. The Skydivers (1963)
5. Pocket Ninjas (1997)
4. Monster a-Go Go (1965)
3. Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (2004)
2. Daniel - Der Zauberer (2004)
1. Night Train to Mundo Fine (1966)

After watching each movie, I will write a short little review about it, most likely highlighting the bad (and therefore good) aspects of it, and also trying to look for a good (and therefore bad) silver lining. If anyone cares to watch one or several with me, just let me know, and I'll let you write a short little review to go along with mine. Just don't let the prestige go to your head!

To be certain, I have seen about 10 or 15 of these movies. But I would feel as though I was robbing my readers if I did not go back and re-watch these movies, in order to review them. Therefore, every one of these movies will be watched, and every one will be reviewed. It may take me a year, but by George I will get it done.

Looking at the list has my heart aflutter with joy at the sheer badness (and therefore goodness) of the project I am about to undertake. Maybe, just maybe, if I watch all of them, I will be cured of Malosisomatitis, and will finally be able to function as a contributing member of society. We will get through this, guys, I promise.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Whistle Binkies Old World Pub at 3120 Wellner Drive NE, Rochester, MN 55906
32/50 - Standard, Run-of-the-mill

There is nothing quite like a trip to a pub with your parents and girlfriend on a rainy Spring evening. Noisy patrons at every table, waitresses in short skirts power walking to deliver food on time, and inebriated gentlefolk wobbling from bar stool to bar stool. One might think such a place would be too rambunctious for a self-described intellectual like myself. Well, you might be right, but did Indiana Jones give up on finding the Ark of the Covenant because he didn't like Nazis? In a word, no. So too does my taste for French dips take me into harms way, driving me into ever more dangerous situations with every passing sandwich. That and that fact that my parents were paying. When I received the menu, I looked in vain for the words "French dip" on the sandwiches page. I was distraught as I went down every entry, coming up short. But wait. What is that?! Aha! There it was, hidden, listed under the name "Prime Rib French Dip." Yes, mindless readers, this French dip was not a generic French dip (as if such a demeaning term could ever be applied to such an amazing invention!). No, this French dip strove to be something more, something better than its French dip brothers and sisters. How did it fare?

Bread: 9/10 pts

This was one of the strongest parts of this French dip. Upon my first bite, I noticed that it was warm in my mouth(!), pleasantly making the bread feel more hearty. The texture was absolutely perfect, being neither too crunchy nor too soft. With every bite my teeth penetrated the thin layer of hard bread ectoderm, and from there proceeded to plunge into the fleshy soft mesoderm, before finally entering the endoderm of the sandwich. My one gripe with the bread is that it appeared that they hollowed out a portion of it before putting the meat inside. This meant that the baguette touched itself on the sides, but in the middle was filled with meat, as if I was eating a Hot Pocket (note to Hot Pocket Research and Development Department: French Dip Hot Pockets). While there was nothing inherently wrong with this, I felt as though I had been cheated out of some bread, and I much prefer my sandwiches to have little bits of meat hanging out the side. The bread was also very good at absorbing the au jus, a plus for any French dip. Overall, the bread was the high point of an otherwise middle of the road French dip.

Roast Beef (Prime Rib?): 7/10 pts

I was torn while eating the meat presented on this sandwich. On the one hand, it was very thick and hearty, not packed on there too tight nor too loosely. It had a distinctive beef taste, something which one should always look for in their French dips. Without cheese, the beef had to do most of the flavor heavy lifting, and overall it did a pretty good job.

However, there were a few problems. One of them was that the meat was a little fatty for my delicate taste, especially considering it was supposed to be from the prime part of the cow (as opposed to the composite part?). Another issue was that, by the end of my sandwich, the meat was tasting a little "eh," and I'm not really sure if the prime rib (or the price tag that came with it) were all that worth it. Sure it was flavorful for the most part, but not necessarily anymore flavorful than a cheaper roast beef. A lesser quality of meat would have tasted just as good, could have been less fatty, and would have been easier on my parent's pocketbooks. Just looking out for you guys!

Cheese: 2/10 pts

How can one review what does not exist? This French dip did not come with the slightest hint of cheese, much to my bebafflement. My dad postulated that perhaps, just perhaps, because the meat was prime rib, the establishment opted to omit the Swiss cheese, as the two are not often found together. This would lead me to argue what the point of including a higher quality meat (see above) in a French dip would be if it precludes the elimination of an entire pillar of the sandwich. Would a house look better if it had a wall constructed made out of high quality lumber, but it meant that the house could only have three walls? Of course not. Such is the fate of this French dip. It gets two point only for having a plausible, if not deeply flawed justification for not including cheese, especially cheese is included if you "Make it a 'Philly'" (More on this later).

Au jus: 8/10 pts

The au jus which came with my sandwich was a pretty good one. It was warm and had a smokey flavor, but didn't overpower my palette like, say, I might overpower Justin Bieber in a contest to see who had the deepest voice. The portion of au jus was plentiful, and lasted me the entire French dip. It was a delicious edition to the encyclopedia of au jus stored in my memory right next to memorized 'That 70's Show' and 'Arrested Development' quotes.

The only problem I had with the au jus was how it seemed to separate after I had finished eating it. On the top there was a clear layer of grease, and on the bottom there were little brownish flakes. I'm not sure if these were remnants of my meat that had fallen in or what. When I stirred it up, they mixed together and it looked like a brown au jus, but then after a few minutes separated again. Makes me wonder...

Miscellaneous: 7/10 pts

  • Appearance: 1/2 pt
    Certainly not the best looking French dip ever, not the ugliest. The Michael Cera of French dips? I think its appearance was damaged by the pickle which was given to me. As Humphrey Bogart once said, "We don't need no stinkin' pickles!" Rock on, Humphrey, rock on. The fact that the meat was all packed inside the French dip and wasn't hanging a little over the roll, as I have become accustomed, was also cause for the one point deduction in this category.

  • Price: 1/3 pt
    The price on this beast was a little over the top, a little rich for my blood. For the French dip and fries or coleslaw, the cost was $10.95. This didn't include the extra $1.49 to substitute my fries for beer cheese soup. I realize the substitution was my own choice, but what red-blooded Midwesterner is going to pass up beer cheese soup? Even without the soup, the French dip was still more expensive than any other I have previously eaten. I guess the reason it was priced so much was the fact that it was "Prime Rib," but as I mentioned before, I'm not sure if this increase in price was really worth it, as it didn't add much to the taste.

  • Restaurant: 2/2 pts
    Whistle Binkies itself is a pretty enjoyable place, contrary to my facetious poo-pooing before. The atmosphere is nice, being far from the seediest bar I have ever been in, and the complementary popcorn is a plus. It's a nice place to sit down and have a bite, watch some March Madness, and rock your girlfriends socks at iPhone Scrabble.

  • Extras: 3/3 pts
    As mentioned before, French fries or coleslaw come included in the price of the French dip. In addition, you can choose to substitute a cup of soup, a side salad, or cottage cheese(?) for $1.49 more. This is a great selection of sides, and this isn't even including the complementary popcorn that was nice and salty. The beer cheese soup was delicious, being both beery and cheesy at the same time, and I sprinkled some of that popcorn on the top to make it taste even better.

Final Tally: 32/50 pts

This French dip was another good addition to the annals of French dip-dom. While it certainly didn't win any medals, it wasn't a bad French dip by any standards, and could be fixed by a altering a few simple things. One thing that I have not elaborated on until now was the ability to change your French dip and "Make it a 'Philly'".

As you can clearly see from exhibit A presented above, for an added price a patron may opt to disfigure their French dip by making it a "Philly." Now, why the hell would a restaurant put something so grotesque and disgusting on a menu? Why would anyone in their right minds take something as wonderful and beautiful as the French dip, and alter it in such a way that you are literally pooping on it. Mention of the Philly Cheesesteak must be stricken from the menu if this French dip is ever to reach its full potential.

The addition of cheese would also have bumped this sandwich up into the higher tiers of the rating system. If cheese can be included on the Poopy Cheesesteak version of this sandwich, why not on the tastier French dip? If I (my parents) are going to pay $11 for a French dip, I shouldn't have to pay more for cheese. Simple as that. And speaking of cost, if the meat was just some Walmart freezer-bought lunch meat beef, it probably wouldn't have tasted all that different, and would have been easier on the wallet, making the price less egregious. It was also a bit of a shame how small my sandwich was, as I was hoping for a large hoagie with large portions of meat, suitable for a large guy like myself. Nevertheless, it was a decent sandwich overall, and if you are at Whistle Binkies absolutely craving a French dip, it probably wouldn't be the worst bet to order one. Just make sure you bought your lottery ticket earlier in the day.

Notes taken during review:

No cheese. Au jus is good and smokey. Baguette absorbs aujus [sic] nicely. Kinda small. Meat is flavorful, maybe a little fatty. No cheese, what's up with that? Maybe because it's prime rib? Bread is just about perfect, but it looks like some was taken out of the middle to make the slices fit better. Soup was great with it. A little pricey overall I thought, not sure prime rib is worth it. Meat tasted a little eh at the end. AU just lasted me the whole sammy sweetheart. Screw pickles.

Well that wraps up the inaugural French dip review for Markaeology. I think I might take a few weeks off from reviewing French dips, as one review in the past four months has been quite taxing. I will probably take some time to expand the scope of this blog, maybe review a CD or game or somesuch thing. Maybe I'll take some time off to watch some crappy movies or something. Now I just need to find a place where I can get a list of the worst movies of all time...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Still More Glorious Dawn Awaits

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears!

I have decided, after much deliberation and expensive personal counseling, to move The French Dip Review to this newer, bigger, better blog, Markaeology. The decision was not easy, as The French Dip Review became somewhat of a Consumerist sensation after my dealings with the Perkins in Madison (something that other sandwich reviewing blog will never be able to claim). However, I quickly got annoyed of assessing au jus, became burned out on baguettes, refrained from being refreshed by roast beef, and chewed cheese only to my chagrin. It became startlingly apparent to me that I cannot sustain a blog by writing about French dips alone; I simply am not interested in one topic for extended periods of time.

Therefore, I have created a new, broader blog, that I will update more frequently with a wider array of topics, ensuring that I do not tire of writing. I have named the blog Markaeology, after my interest in the field of archaeology, although I plan to write on whatever topic stirs my marrow. In addition to reviews of the aforementioned French dips, I will likely review movies I see, games I play, shows I watch, people I meet(?), and things I touch(!). However, as homage to perfection, I promise to never review any delectable foodstuff other than the fabled French dip sandwiches. It's the least I can do. I will likely also infrequently comment on interesting news stories I come across, mostly dealing with the humanities and science, as well as post the occasional and obligatory HILARIOUS photo with an equally HILARIOUS story to go along with it. This is a blog, after all.

For those French dip purists (Puritans?) of you who may be concerned that my reviews will be corrupted by intermittent nuggets of horizon expanding topics, fear not. For if you truly love French dips, you will understand that sporadic reviews with interesting filler is better than no reviews at all. If you are concerned about the quality of my reviews, I promise I will always hold French dip-serving restaurants to a higher standard, and will never forget the immortal, sage words of Uncle Ben, when he said "With great sandwich comes great responsibility."

For the next few days I will be updating the look and layout of the blog to get it up to a higher standard. I'd hate to have it confused with a second-rate blog. In the meantime I will try and track down my former readers, and let these elite few disciples know that the Lazarus of blogs has been resurrected. After that, I promise to update more often, and not fall into the same trap I did with The French Dip Review. You have my word, and my honor. And for those who frequently fall victim to attacks of nostalgia, The French Dip Review will remain up, petrified in time (if bits and bytes can be petrified), for all to enjoy and reminisce about.

Now let us look to the future, and may this post not be a sunrise, but a galaxy-rise, and the blog filled with 400-billion suns.