Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ad Nauseam: Joe's Crab Shack Commercial, plus: Red Grapefruit, Baskin Robbins late nights, Starbucks baristas, and 3 movies!

I don't know what annoys me most about this commercial for Joe's Crab Shack which incessantly plays on all channels, at all hours.

I'm not sure if it's the bad acting all around, the need for another "dumb blonde" stereotype, the sexual undertones where it's just not needed, or the fake laughing at the end.
And they managed to squeeze the whole production into a 15-second spot. 

Having never been to a Joe's Crab Shack, I can't vouch for the food but their commercial bombs. See for yourself:


Next up: Ruby Red Grapefruit.

I can't get enough of it. I've loved it for years but only lately has it become a real go-to for me. I know for some people it's an acquired taste but if you really haven't tried one and you're scared to- I encourage you to give it a shot. Yes, it tastes like grapefruit which is usually the make or break of the whole experience. You either love grapefruit or you hate it. There's no gray area. But if you're a citrus fan in general, you should give grapefruit another shot. Sometimes when I'm at a diner, I'll passup on the pancakes or waffles and order a grapefruit instead. And I don't even put sugar on it-- in my opinion, it doesn't need it. It's already sweet enough. Not to mention it's really good for you! Click this link to see for yourself!

Next up: Starbucks baristas.

So... I love Starbucks and I even have a Starbucks Gold Card... however... the customer service of baristas at many of my local stores is so hit-or-miss for me and it's really disappointing. Especially since one of the pillars of the whole Starbucks brand is its' exceptional customer service, quality, and willingness to accomodate custom orders (I'll have an iced venti double soy half caf latte dry with an extra shot please.. you get the idea) and I just feel like for the prices they charge-- their baristas should be constantly ontop of their game.

I bring this up because I've been consistently disappointed with the customer service at the Oakhurst, NJ location. It's very close to Joey's house so we end up there fairly often but this is a location where the employees clearly hate their jobs. I don't want to generalize because of course I'm not there 24/7 and I'm sure some of the employees are lovely people and wonderful to customers. But more often than not, I get stuck with someone who'd rather do ANYTHING but service with a smile. I get blank stares, dead emotion, mumbled responses, annoyed sighs, and more. Unacceptable! Last time I was there, we actually made a complaint to the supervisor so I'm hopeful things will start to improve. 

Next up: Late night trips to Baskin-Robbins

So the other night after going out to dinner, Joey, his sister Mary and I decided to get ice cream. It was a Sunday night, around 9pm and we had a really hard time finding a place that was open. So unfortunately we had to settle for the Dunkin Donuts/Baskin-Robbins combo on Main Street in Asbury Park. We pulled up to the drive thru and ordered a small hot chocolate, a medium Reese's sundae & a kids cup of soft-serve vanilla w/ rainbow sprinkles. We are told to pull ahead for our total. So we did. Where we sat at the drive-thru window for TWELVE minutes!!! I admit, I didn't knock on the window because we were just sitting there laughin in disbelief... might I add, they were not busy-- had at least 2 people working, and only 1 person on line inside... there was no excuse!!! Finally, after paying and getting our order, I said to the lady, "you know, we waited her over ten minutes" and didn't get much response in return. Annoyed, we left, grateful that at least we had our ice cream. After driving the remaining few blocks to Joey's house, we opened our bag and Mary discovered that her kids cup of soft serve vanilla w/ rainbow sprinkles looked like this:

SANS ice cream!!!! They gave her a kids cup full of sprinkles only! No ice cream! I wish I would have taken a picture of her face which was a combination of confusion, shock, disappointment and flabbergast. I picked up Joey's keys and immediately declared, "Let's go Mary, we're going back." 

We drove back and went inside this time... where we had to wait a long time for someone to finally come to the counter to help us. I explained what happened and the gentleman didn't even flinch or apologize or show any emotion at all other than to call the manager-- who then directed him to basically just do whatever to get us out of the store, I assume. He re-made the order the right way and as we were leaving we heard the manager ask him, "so what happened?" "oh well they ordered a soft serve vanilla with rainbow sprinkles but i guess you only gave them just sprinkles by itself" "THAT'S WHAT THEY ORDERED!!!!!!!"

oh. really? that makes sooooo much sense.

also-- my Reese's sundae (when i eventually ate it) was gross and the ice cream tasted old and frostbitten, and the reese's cups bland and mealy.

won't be back!

Next up: MOVIES! "Observe & Report" (which includes a critique of the Ocean, NJ Middlebrook Galleria movie theatre), "Every Little Step" (at my adorable Clearview Arts Cinema in Red Bank, NJ) and "I Love You, Man" (at AMC theatres @ Monmouth Mall in Eatontown, NJ)
  • Observe and Report

    (Starring: Seth Rogen, Anna Faris, Ray Liotta & Celia Watson)
    Very funny but also very dark. Anna Faris should have never screwed up her lips because on a giant movie screen they are very scary-- even though she was funny in the film. Seth Rogen, as always, was intense yet laid back... hilarious. Standout performance by Celia Watson as Seth Rogen's alcoholic mother. If you liked Pinepple Express, you'll probably like this too. I must mention that we saw this film at Clearview Middlebrook Galleria cinemas in Ocean, NJ. We go here because it's close to Joey's house... that's really the only reason. The place is not very clean-- the bathrooms are atrocious. The seating and general feel of the theatre is not modern but it's also not charming. And the customer service is heinous across the board... from the ticket sellers to the ticket takers to the terrible terrible terrible concession stand workers. Sloppy uniforms, foul language between themselves and friends, leaning over on the counters, barely acknowledging your existence as a customer, and slowwwwww. 

  • Every Little Step

    (Starring: many Broadway performers, composers, lyricists, producers, directors)
    I absolutely loved this film. It follows the plight of real-life dancers as they struggle through auditions for the 2006 Broadway revival of "A Chorus Line" while also investigating the history of the show and the creative minds behind the original and current incarnations. I knew quite a few of the people in the movie and it was awesome to see them up on screen battling it out for a spot in the cast. Ironic twist to see dancers in the audition process of a show that is about the audition process of a show! Beautifully shot and heart-poundingly exciting, it was also very moving and emotional at times. Many behind-the-scenes audio tapes and interviews accompanied the documentary and I can't wait for it to come out on DVD so I can buy it. Saw it at Red Bank's Clearview Arts Cinema, which is always a favorite.

  • I Love You, Man

    (Starring: Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Rashida Jones, Jaime Pressly, Andy Samberg)
    Had me laughing out loud throughout. I love Paul Rudd and I love that he never seems to age. He was really good at playing a naive awkward guy. Jason Segel was hilarious and this was actually the first thing I've seen him in so it was a great introduction for me. I especially appreciated the random film references-- such as Andre the Giant's voice in The Princess Bride of all things-- as well as the types of things my friends and I say to each other, such as the moment when Paul Rudd made an awkward attempt to say something funny but failed miserably, to which Jason Segel responded: "I still wanna hang out... despite that bad joke." Saw it @ AMC theatres @ Monmouth Mall in Eatontown... no complaints this time around. THIS time around!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ernie Anastos: A Poem-Blog

Ernie Anastos!!!!!
Fox 5 News!!!!
Ernie, you look fake... are you fake?
Why do you smile weird?
Why do you fail at "acting hip?"
Oh Ernie... you look Fake!!!

-A Poem-Blog by Joey

Ad Nauseam: Yoplait Light commercial

There's not much else to say... I despise this commercial.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Clearview Arts Cinema - Red Bank, NJ

Clearview Arts Cinema
36 White Street
Red Bank, NJ 07701

I adore this theatre.

When mega-multiplexes dominate the entertainment quotient these days, and with the digital lobbyboard of movie titles/showing times the size of Nebraska looming over your heads-- it's so refreshing to spend some time at this tiny diamond in the rough.

Situated in "Hip City", as weekly newspaper Tri-City News refers to Red Bank, Clearview Arts Cinema is perfectly seated on White Street amongst the many shops, eateries, galleries and cafes that make the town such a cool place to hang out.

Specializing in independent or limited-release films (and the occasional special occasion premiere event or symposium), this Arts Cinema has a vintage feel while still offering most of the modern amenities we've all come to expect when going to the movies.

The seating is extremely comfortable, the theatre clean & well-kempt, and the lighting/sound fantastic. It's never too freezing, never too hot, and never too crowded. Prices of both the tickets & snacks are comparable to other theatres but with my (FREE) Clear Advantage discount card I'm able to rack up points which turn into rewards later (free drinks, snacks, tickets, etc). The bathrooms are tiny and in need of some updating but it never takes away from the overall experience.

What I want to focus on here is the A+ level of customer service I get here every single time I go. Since there are only 2 theatres on the premises, the staff is usually pretty skeletal-- only a small handful of employees each time. Everyone, from the ticket seller, to the ticket taker, concession staff, ushers and so on is polite, helpful and accomodating. They will help you carry things to your seat if you need assistance, they will hold a flashlight and guide your way to your seat, and they even stand at the exit doors of each film with a basket of mints! Their old-fashioned uniforms complete with bowties just unify the whole experience.

I just always leave so happily impressed with the service-- even though they've been so consistent it's the service I now come to expect!

Not to mention I love their film offerings, as they are titles not usually available elsewhere locally. I most recently saw "Sunshine Cleaning" starring Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Steve Zahn & Alan Arkin -- which I thought was great! I definitely recommend it-- it's a little off-the-wall, and highly emotional at times. Great performances throughout, especially by Blunt & Arkin -- but the standout of them all for me was the young boy who played Adams' son, Oscar: newcomer & youngster Jason Spevack... remember the name! He ran the full gamut and stole many scenes. He's the little guy in the photo above.

So next time you're in the Red Bank area and looking for something to do before dinner or before a concert at Count Basie Theatre-- head over to White Street to check out an indie film!


Monday, April 20, 2009

WELCOME, Fellow Critics!!!

Hello all... and welcome to our brand-new blog!

Joey and I have realized over the last 14 years of being best friends that we complain... a lot. And we like to complain too, I think, to a certain extent.

Whereas some people are music critics, film critics, food critics... we are self-proclaimed "experience critics". Whether its an amazing bartender, a rude customer service rep, an awesome movie or a crappy omelette-- we're going to write about it here.

We will include photos/video whenever possible- and promise to not hold back. We also promise that we give praise & good tips where applicable; but we give low points & bad reviews where needed as well. 

We are fair, and honest -- but remember, this is all for fun! We're not out for blood, we just have big mouths and were somewhat convinced other people might be mildly entertained by what we had to say, and who knows, maybe even find a new favorite coffee shop or website in the process.

So that's that for now... bear with us as we start dutifully blogging and I hope you'll subscribe and interact with us -- spread the word and give us places to try! Your assignments and suggestions will contribute to our cause... of not keeping our opinions to ourselves.

Remember-- it's not just restaurants. We critique life! :-)

Oh, and we hope you all still read us when we're the next Perez Hilton.