Posts Tagged ‘review’

Ok, I know, I know–why is a twenty-five-year-old man so concerned with College Park?

No, it’s not to scope out under-21’s and talk to them. I have OKCupid for that. Nor is it to speak on social media and, in turn, create memes out of my fellow Terps. They do that on their own. Since I live a literal hop, skip, and a jump away from UMD, I find myself in the area more often than I like to admit than not. I also still conduct a teeny bit of business in the area, therefore I’m invested in places where I can (cheaply) talk turkey. So, when I heard that a Denny’s was opening in the area, I was both cautious and enthusiastic. Growing up in Baltimore, the only Denny’s within a twelve-mile radius was this run-down spot near North Point Road that’s now a Sudsville laundromat near an almost deserted K-Mart.

This area looks almost nothing like it did when I was younger...but almost exactly the same. Think about it.

This area looks almost nothing like it did when I was younger…but almost exactly the same. Think about it. About five minutes from here resides the Gentleman’s Gold Club. It’s exactly what you think it is.

Suffice to say, I’d heard of it, knew what it was, but I’d never had it. But, I always wanted it. Like some slightly below average Holy Grail, I searched high and low for a Denny’s. Whenever I found one, there was always something a bit…better to do/eat. But, recently, I couldn’t avoid my cautious enthusiasm about the place any longer. So, after a long day at work, the family and I drove down Route One, past the Enclave, past the Taco Bell, to a little slice of Americana: the Denny’s of Greater College Park. While I didn’t expect five-star dining, what I got exceeded my lowest expectations in terms of “SMH.”

When we walked in, we were three of (including the staff) maybe twenty people in the restaurant. I chalked it up to finals, but it stuck out in my mind; the place just opened not too long ago. Ke$ha and Bruno Mars played from the sound system, so the idea of this being a slice of modern Americana was kept intact, albeit a bit glittered and puffed up. Our waiter, a young woman in her twenties, was pleasant but forgot the bare necessities (making sure your tables are properly equipped with silverware, keeping your menus accessible, keeping your order pad on your person, checking back on your customers, making sure your customers aren’t ready to torch the place because the service they’ve gotten has been below sub-par, etc). When we finally did get her to stop and get everything in order, she was quite apologetic for everything (that’s a plus to alleviate my negativity) and took our orders. I had the “Red White and Blue” French Toast. The family had kid-sized spaghetti and the Cheesesteak Omelet, respectively.

About forty minutes later (after a slew of “mishaps”), our food arrived. My “red white and blue” was replaced by butter pecan and cinnamon. My eggs were cold and my sausages were more mushy than my cats food. The omelet lacked, well, most of what it was supposed to have (you know, peppers, onions, taste–that sort of thing). And our beverages were…unique. We got flavored lemonades. The “mango lemonade” was some Minute Made that was (supposedly) squeezed fresh with a giant glob of mango syrup at the bottom. I stirred and I stirred, but they just don’t make water wet enough to dissolve the “mango” into the drink in any way. I’d understand if it’s puree; puree isn’t supposed to flat-out dissolve into things. But, it was literally half-a-cup full of syrup.

The only thing that came out remotely like expected was my kid’s spaghetti.

Upon paying my check, the cashier asked me how everything was.

“Uh, it was…cool…kind of different,” I hesitantly said, biting my tongue.

“Well, it wasn’t no Ruth’s Chris, was it,” the cashier cheekily asked me, sensing my disdain.

And in the back of my mind (and the front of it), I answered honestly.

“No. No, it wasn’t,” I retorted as I walked out, head-shaking family in tow.

Did I expect Ruth’s Chris? Heck no. But, I at least expected something better than what I got. Maybe it’s some post-open jitters that they’re still trying to work out. That’s entirely possible, just like Terrapin Turf before it (expect a part three of that series at some point, probably in the fall of ’14 with my old a**). Personally, I probably wouldn’t go back for a while, but if you’re in the mood to wait around and possibly get the wrong food, check it out.

At least the pancake puppies were divine. Even though by the time they brought us syrup, the puppies had gotten a bit cold.

Until next time, this is your (admittedly cynical) critic Speed on the Beat, the one who endures awkwardness and clusters so you don’t have to, signing off.

(For part one, click here. This is also probably a post Lord Jamar won’t like. Or maybe he will. I don’t know. )

eminem_zps67e24207Once upon a time, a man named Marshall with drug, drinking, and daddy issues (not to mention mommy issues) became a rapper named Eminem who made women swoon by rapping about doing horrible things to them and their families. The “white honky devil” (his words, not mine) made a killing in hip-hop, almost Elvis-like with his approach–except Eminem was better than some of his black counterparts. Elvis, in my opinion, was never better than any of his contemporaries. But, that’s another rant for another time entirely.

Ever the equal opportunity offender, everyone became target practice. Well, almost everyone. You’re not going to hear him rap tongue-in-cheek about, say, Trayvon Martin. He’s a “devil,” but not completely stupid–or Rick Ross. Anyhow, fast forward to today, the day after the world ended. To those not named Stan, I’m referring to the day that Em’s MMLP2 dropped. As an Eminem fan, I’m happy that he’s still alive from the whole addiction thing. Secondly, I give his music a chance before I completely say that his stuff sucks. Therefore, my thoughts on “Love Game” and the like from Part One of “The Death of Marshall” weren’t just for unwarranted shock value.

(This is the uncensored deluxe edition of the album)

 

Marshall "Eminem" Mathers in 2013, ESPN

Marshall “Eminem” Mathers in 2013, ESPN

But, here? It looks like my initial thoughts were halfway warranted. I hoped that Em and his camp learned from the mistakes of Recovery. Taking everything that’s made the past couple Eminem albums almost un-listenable (kind of corny similesdouble-time flows with no real reason, pop-friendly hooks/beats/lyrics/messages, dated pop culture references, songs with a million words in them with over 9000 fan-made meanings, but really no real meaning, etc.), Eminem here has created an album that will face a Yeezus type of hype.

The first few weeks, we’ll hear everyone say that it’s GOAT-caliber, then after that? Nothing, aside from uber-fans having eargasms over it and ignoring everything else, saying that anything other than MMLP2 means you love Future songs. Sidenote, that new Future/Miley/Mr. Hudson song isn’t my cup of hot tea, per se. But, it could put Future (even more so) in the ears of those that listen to Top 40 pop-rap and stuff. So, just as a forewarning. If you don’t like Future, you’ll probably have to deal with him in a Flo Rida/Pitbull sort of way for a bit.

Macklemore sez: "I influenced Eminem? Time to pop some tags!"

Macklemore sez: “I influenced Eminem? Time to pop some tags!”

Cynicism (and naked Alien-Miley) aside, MMLP2 lacks a lot of the plot development Eminem songs were once known for, instead opting to go over 9000 words per second. The album does have some highlights, such as the “Cleaning Out My Closet”-like “Headlights,” which almost sounds as if Marshall took a page from that other popular white rapper of today. Except, you know, Eminem uses that page to talk about his parental issues, not same-sex love and his happiness about his two uncles. The second standout track for me is the Jamie N Commons-aided “Desperation,” mostly because it’s the closest Eminem has come to going completely Kid Rock to date. It’s bluesy and embraces Eminem’s self-professed “White Trash Party” roots in a way unseen in his music thus far.

stanAnother highlight, in my opinion is Stan: Part Two–I mean, the intro track “Bad Guy.” This song deserves a segment of its own. Now, technically, it’s part three of the Stan saga. But, that’s only if you count Tunechi Tuna Fish‘s spin-off song “Anne.” And, most people don’t. At all. Ever. The song is almost worth a portion of the price of admission, just because it answers a lot of questions regarding the wax-made mythos of Eminem–and some of his real-life issues. If you’ve never listened to an Eminem song, but want a good starting point, “Bad Guy,” in my opinion is for you. It talks about literally everything you could want to know about the journey he’s taken since starting his career.

But, for every “Bad Guy,” we get a “Love Game.” For every “Monster”–which for what it is, is at least better than “Love Game” and “Not Afraid” from Recovery–we get “Beautiful Pain.” Now, “Beautiful Pain” isn’t a bad song per se. Sia’s vocals are hauntingly beautiful, but after “Monster,” “Love the Way You Lie,” “Space Bound,” and so on, it’s overkill. And overkill, as mentioned, is an overdone problem in this potentially overrated album.

So, in short, Marshall’s dead (maybe for good this time). And while this album wasn’t as stripper sweat as I thought it’d be, its good moments are outweighed by its bad-to-meh moments. If you’re an Eminem fan, you’ll either love it, be saddened by the decline, or just say “…at least it’s not Relapse.”

Matthew Mitchell: He's just as off as Stan, and with good reason.

One last note, be sure to check out my brother True God’s efforts to expand the #TeamDAR brand. While I try to keep my own endeavors out of the pages of Thee Arteest, only because I don’t want to abuse it, True’s efforts not only revolve around building a brand. They are also focused on keeping his family together and promoting change in the world. Check it out.

#TeamDAR: Moving the Movement and Making A Change — Indiegogo