• Dick Harper (Jim Carrey) is a big shot at Globodyne Corporation. He has become Vice-President of Communications, but then things go wrong and Globodyne goes under. Of course, Dick is optimistic and assures his wife Jane (Téa Leoni) that things will be all right and that he will find another job. Unfortunately for him, Globodyne Corporation was such a big employer that everyone from there is looking for a job and Dick can’t find one.

    Dick and Jane’s luck worsens when they start to run out of money. Soon all their belongings have been sold and they can no longer afford their home. The couple embark on an extreme scheme to secure money: by stealing it wherever they can.

    As you might suspect, Fun with Dick and Jane is a great vehicle for Jim Carrey to indulge his comical self. With plenty of jokes and crazy misadventures, this movie will keep you on the edge of your seat till the very end.

    Last thoughts: Fun with Dick and Jane is a movie that aims to and will bring you many laughs. It’s not my favorite kind of movie, but if you’re ready for 90 minutes of no-brainer hilarity, then Fun with Dick and Jane easily delivers.

    Genre: Comedy (2005)
    Length: 90 min
    Rating: PG-13
    Story +++
    Cast ++++
    Humor ++++

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  • Eating Out, Restaurants Comments Off

    Sky 360 Restaurant & Lounge
    101 9 Ave SW
    Calgary AB  T2P 1J9
    Phone: 403 532 7966

    In Calgary and looking for a restaurant with a view? This is the spot! The Sky 360 Restaurant is situated in the Calgary Tower, just one level below the observation deck. What’s more, the restaurant revolves, so imagine being 525 feet above street level and getting a complete 360-degree bird’s-eye view of Calgary while you eat. The view is incomparable! Sky 360 makes a complete revolution in 45 minutes at lunch time and in 1 hour at dinner time, so you get a full visual tour of the city in the course of your meal.

    So here’s the short recommendation: YES, it is good, and YES, by all means go to Sky 360. Read on if you’d like to find out why.

    You might expect a restaurant at the top of the Calgary Tower to feature an expensive menu. That isn’t exactly true. In fact, Sky 360′s prices are very competitive with the nicer, non-tower dining establishments in town. They are just a smidge above the prices at your average chain restaurant, while obviously having superior ambiance. Adult admission to the top of Calgary Tower is $12.95, but this is waived for a Sky 360 customer who orders an entree. So, you’ve now saved $12.95 and your lunch menu burger is only $16.

    When you first enter the Calgary Tower, go to the desk and ask for the hostess of the Sky 360 Restaurant. She will call up to confirm a free table and then direct you to the elevator. In exchange for getting to go up the tower for free, you must order a lunch or dinner entree, so plan to have more than a coffee.

    When you reach the restaurant, another hostess will escort you to your table. Sky 360 has arranged all the tables to face the 360-degree windows. There is a mix of booths, tables for two, and seating for large groups. As soon as you sit down you’ll feel the restaurant turning. The vertical walls and windows stay in place while the floor moves. Prepare to lose some orientation if you leave your table to visit the washrooms (in the non-revolving center of the tower). When you try to go back, your table won’t be where you thought it was.

    The Sky 360 menu has enough to have something for everyone. The food list is short, so a frequent diner could get bored. I don’t know if and how often the menu changes.

    For lunch, I quickly settled on the Beef Burger. My friend chose the Seafood Bouillabaisse on the advice of our server Geraldo, who did an exquisite job of attending to us.

    The food was not long in arriving. In any case, it doesn’t feel like waiting when you can admire Calgary from the restaurant’s vantage point.

    My burger looked sumptuous: a beef patty with a slice of bacon and aged cheddar on an onion bun. It tasted even better than it looked – it was bursting with juice and flavor. The sauce dripped down my hands every time I took a bite. Besides that teeny flaw, I could have one of these burgers everyday. The fries were the right degree of crispy. The portion size of this meal even exceeded my appetite. The burger was easily more substantial than the typical chain-restaurant burger, leaving little doubt as to which one is the better value for money.

    The Seafood Bouillabaisse was beautifully presented. It was teeming with tasty morsels, including tender salmon, large juicy scallops, shrimp, and mussels. The broth was rich in flavor and texture. The dish came with basil pesto crostini (resting on top, in the photo), a zesty and crunchy accompaniment. Geraldo had made the perfect recommendation. He would get my vote for best server in Calgary.

    After your meal, go up one level to the observation deck. Here you can spend more time taking in the tower view.

    Last thoughts: Having lived more than three years in Calgary, I’m kicking myself for not discovering Sky 360 until now. The food is exceptional, the service superb, and the view second to none. I would love to go for dinner and gaze down on Calgary all lit up at night. I also want to go back for lunch on a clear day to enjoy an aerial view of the mountains. You can be sure I’ll be looking for excuses to visit Sky 360 Restaurant & Lounge again and again.

    Food +++++Sky 360 on Urbanspoon
    Service +++++
    Ambiance +++++
    Washrooms +++

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  • Movies / TV, Recreation Comments Off

    Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) is an obsessive-compulsive novelist with an awful temper. In As Good As It Gets, you see how badly he treats his neighbor Simon (Greg Kinnear) and Simon’s little dog.

    Then Simon ends up in the hospital and Melvin’s world is shaken up. Still, being obsessive-compulsive, he can’t go without his daily meal, always served by the same waitress (Helen Hunt).

    Watching Melvin try to adapt and surmount his problems makes for a funny and endearing movie.

    Last thoughts: As Good As It Gets gets to be a very good story, brought to life by a pitch-perfect cast. Make time to see As Good As It Gets, and you’ll see why it got so many Oscar nominations.

    Genre: Romantic Comedy (1997)
    Length: 139 min
    Rating: PG-13
    Story +++++
    Cast ++++
    Humor +++

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  • Eating Out, Restaurants Comments Off

    Bumper’s Beef House
    603 Banff Ave
    Banff AB
    Phone: 403 762 2622

    After a day of basking in the fresh air of the Rocky Mountains, the body yearns to wind down with hearty food. We were drawn to try Bumper’s, which claims that “if you haven’t been to Bumper’s, you haven’t been to Banff”.

    Bumper’s is not one of the many restaurants in Banff’s downtown core. It’s a bit more hidden but still easy to find. If you follow Banff Avenue heading out of town, you’ll find Bumper’s on the left, just before you hit the woods. It’s basically the last building in town.

    Bumper’s Beef House has an airy, rustic atmosphere. The inside is furnished in wood, with a huge wooden man in the middle of the restaurant. As you can deduce from the name, Bumper’s serves everything you’d expect from a steakhouse, plus more. Most items on the Bumper’s menu include helping yourself to the all-you-can-eat salad bar. If you don’t want anything else, it’s even worth going just for the salad bar. The salad bar is one of the biggest and best I’ve ever seen. It’s a generous spread of vegetables, fruits, cheeses, legumes, dressings, soups, and fresh-baked dinner rolls.

    For dinner we ordered Pile-O-Bones and Bumper’s Super Burger, and both included the salad bar. It was fairly early (they open at 5 pm) and before the dinner rush, so our food arrived much faster than in the average steakhouse.

    The Pile-O-Bones, which are prime rib bones, were massive. The waitress had warned that they would be “chewy”. They did prove to be a workout for the jaw, but my friend gnawed happily on these flavorful beef ribs.

    I had the Bumper’s Super Burger, touted on the menu as “one of the burger wonders of the world”. It was far from being so! The bread looked black. I normally like bread well toasted, but in this case the bun was simply burnt. The waitress apologized and explained that the toaster was broken. That’s fine, but how did burnt bread escape the cook’s eyes? I was given a new bun, this one barely toasted, but anything was better than blackened. I could tell after digging in that the bread wasn’t fresh to begin with. I also got cheese on my burger after declining cheese when I placed my order. Overall the burger tasted okay but no more.

    Last thoughts: Bumper’s is a nice restaurant in Banff, farther away from the busier tourist hangouts yet still close enough to be a convenient option. Would I go back? Possibly, but if so I’m staying away from their “wonder” burger.

    Food ++Bumpers Beef House on Urbanspoon
    Service +++
    Ambiance ++++
    Washrooms ++++

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  • Elf

    Christmas is that time of year when everyone does their best to be nice to the world. Even the movie folks do their best by releasing feel-good movies with heartwarming messages.

    That was the case with a movie called Elf.

    Elf introduces us to Buddy (Will Ferrell), who is an elf – or so he thinks. Buddy is in fact a human who climbed into Santa’s bag when he was still a baby orphan. Santa let him stay at the North Pole, where he grew up to be a human-sized being trying his best to be an elf.

    One day Buddy finds out the truth. He also learns that though his mother passed away a long time ago, his father is alive and unaware that Buddy was ever born. Buddy’s dad works in the Empire State Building in New York City. Before long Buddy sets off for The Big Apple to meet his dad.

    Buddy begins a long journey on foot from the North Pole to his destination. When he finally arrives at his father’s workplace, Buddy is kicked out of the building because the man won’t believe Buddy is his son.

    Poor Buddy ends up in a department store, where the manager of the Christmas section mistakes him for an employee in elf costume. So Buddy goes to work and becomes infatuated with the beautiful department store elf Jovie (Zooey Deschanel).

    From there more zany events unfold, just as you’d expect with Will Ferrell in the lead.

    Like every good Christmas movie, Elf gets a happy ending.

    Last thoughts: Elf is a delightful movie that’s fun to watch any time of year. Both Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel are perfectly charming, and boy, Zooey Deschanel can really sing! Get this movie ready for viewing this Christmas, because Elf is a must-see holiday film!

    Genre: Comedy (2003)
    97 min
    Story ++++
    Cast ++++
    Humor +++

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  • Eating Out, Fast Food Comments Off

    Le Chien Chaud Gourmet Hot Dogs
    #3-2015 4 St SW
    Calgary AB  T2S 1W6
    Phone: 403 229 3641

    After a walk through Calgary’s downtown East Village, our stomachs started to demand food. Having heard of Le Chien Chaud and realizing that it wasn’t much farther, we headed towards Uptown 17th Avenue. Le Chien Chaud is on business-dense 4th Street SW just after 20th Avenue, across from the Petro-Canada gas station.

    The outside of Le Chien Chaud looks like the average storefront and doesn’t stand out much. The inside, however, is a different story. The tiny space is decorated in retro style, with a black-and-white checkered floor, red walls, and chrome furniture. There’s even an old-fashioned street lamp and a little red cart of condiments and toppings. Across from these is a wall paying homage to the almighty hot dog. We spotted The Mona Lisa clutching a hot-dog bun, an Oscar Meyer wiener ad, and a toddler’s hot-dog costume.

    Le Chien Chaud just barely fits in 6 tables, each seating 4 or less. We had to wait for a table on this busy Saturday afternoon.

    There’s an extensive menu of gourmet hot dogs: Breakfast Dog (available all day), Canadian Dog, Chicago Dog, Chilean Completo Dog, Coney Island Dog, French Dog, German Dog, Italian Dog, Kids Dog (12 and under), Mediterranean Dog, Mexican Dog, San Antonio Black Bean Chili Dog, and Ukrainian Dog.

    At the counter, you order any of the above with your choice of wiener: the signature blend Pork/Beef, All-Beef, Vegetarian, Buffalo, or Pork Bratwurst. These range in price from $5.45 to $6.50.

    Then you grab a table and wait until they call your order. The hot dogs are served on checkered wax paper in a red plastic basket. The wieners themselves are hefty, about 1 inch thick and more than half a foot long.

    I had the Italian Dog with All-Beef wiener. The Italian comes with garlic butter, bruschetta, sharp asiago cheese, and sweet fresh basil. When it arrived the bread was soaking. My first bite was a bad surprise – I hadn’t expected the toppings to be cold. The cheese was almost frozen! This combined badly with the all-beef wiener, which was piping hot and extremely greasy. I can’t remember biting into a greasier hot dog in my life. The bun was not fresh and – with a wet bottom – really disappointed the bread lover in me.

    My friend had the Mediterranean Dog with Buffalo wiener. The Mediterranean comes with roasted red pepper hummous, artichoke hearts, tangy olives, herbed feta cheese and fresh parsley. The wiener is made from free-roaming buffalo. Though indistinguishable in taste from the all-beef wiener, it was much leaner. The toppings were also cold and the combination lackluster.

    The lone bathroom continues the wiener obsession with hot dog quotes and trivia (and has a sensor-activated trash can).

    Last thoughts: I was really curious to try Le Chien Chaud, but I left unimpressed. Their array of “gourmet” hot dogs sounds intriguing at first, but the actual creations are nothing special. I had a much more memorable experience at Tubby Dog (also in Calgary’s Uptown district). Tubby Dog’s hot dog creations cost a bit more but were a real treat to eat. Despite the nice atmosphere at Le Chien Chaud, I have no desire to go back for the food.

    Food +++Le Chien Chaud on Urbanspoon
    Service +++
    Ambiance +++++
    Washrooms +++++

    Tags: ,

  • Eating Out, Restaurants Comments Off

    Huckleberry’s Family Restaurant
    205 Laurier St
    Invermere BC
    Phone: 250 342 3800

    While on a little road trip we had to stop in Invermere for lunch. After driving around to scope out the food territory, we were drawn to try Huckleberry’s Family Restaurant.

    To find this family restaurant in Invermere, just take the main road into town and look on your left. Huckleberry’s Restaurant looks like a big log cabin inside and out. On entering you’re greeted by a large ice cream counter. On a warm day, people can pop in to buy a cold treat and enjoy it outside on the picnic tables (also crafted from logs). On this day we opted for a sit-down meal inside. The dining room is split in two, on either side of the ice cream counter. Both sides are sparsely decorated, and the tables and chairs could have been chosen with more thought to complement the cozy log-cabin setting.

    Huckleberry’s has an extensive menu bursting with choices. The menu itself is very busy and colorful, thus somewhat hard to read. I went for the Schnitzel Burger while my companion picked the Seafood Omelette with Huckleberry Pancakes.

    Our food arrived shortly. The Schnitzel Burger looked good: a nicely breaded piece of meat on a fresh bun. It was the first time I’d had schnitzel in a burger. The schnitzel was cooked right and a perfect fit with the bun. The fries were crispy and tasted great.

    The Seafood Omelette looked quite plain at first but proved to be full of tasty stuffing. It paired well with the Huckleberry Pancakes (it normally comes with plain pancakes). The pancakes were dotted with pieces of huckleberry and heavenly with the house-made huckleberry syrup.

    Our server was very friendly and entertained all my questions about huckleberries. He even gave us ideas for things to see while in Invermere. A server who is fully engaged with his customers is a rare treat these days.

    Last thoughts: Huckleberry’s Family Restaurant is a must-go and must-return. The food is super, the decor unique, and the service exemplary. If you’re going anywhere near Invermere, eat at Huckleberry’s and you will leave happy.

    Food ++++Huckleberry’s Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon
    Service +++++
    Ambiance ++++
    Washrooms ++++

    Tags: ,

  • Household, Products, shoes Comments Off

    Maybe you’ve seen Shoes Under on one of those TV infomercials. I haven’t, but this “As Seen On TV” product did look interesting when I saw it in a store. I bought two Shoes Under units, expecting to organize my shoes neatly under the bed.

    For those who’ve never heard of it, Shoes Under is a nylon box. Granted, it’s floppy – not rigid – but it’s best described as a box. The box has a see-thru top that zips open, and the interior has 12 compartments supposedly for 12 pairs of shoes. Shoes Under does not come up very high, making it perfect to slide under the bed. It seems like the ideal way to store your off-season shoes.

    That was the product description; now here’s the reality. When unfolded from the packaging box, Shoes Under is much smaller than the picture would suggest. The nylon fabric seems strong and durable, but you’ll really doubt how many shoes will fit in one unit. The compartments are too small! For instance, a pair of running shoes (for average-sized feet) will take up two compartments, one for each shoe. A pair of flip-flops or flatter shoes could actually fit in one compartment, but my dress shoes won’t. I concluded that except for my one pair of flip-flops, none of my other shoes would fit “one pair per pocket”, meaning that I would need four units (twice as much space) to hold all my footwear. Though I only paid $4 for each Shoes Under unit, it’s not the ideal way to store my shoes.

    Last thoughts: Shoes Under seems perfect at first, then proves to be impractical when you try to use it. With the pockets/compartments being so small, it’s not what I was looking for. Mine will be going back to the store. I think a couple of under-bed plastic storage boxes would be much more useful and versatile.

    So what have we learned today? Don’t believe everything you see on TV or even on the outside of a box.

    Quality +++
    Design & Features ++
    Functionality +
    Style ++
    Price ++++

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  • Eating Out, Fast Food Comments Off

    Boogie’s Burgers
    A-908 Edmonton Trail NE
    Calgary AB  T2E 3K1
    Phone: 403 230 7070

    Boogie’s Burgers is one of those places in Calgary that serve good fast food without being a chain. Boogie’s dates back to 1969, when it was started by the guy who also started the famed Peter’s Drive-In.

    How do you get to Boogie’s? If you’re coming from Highway 1, just go down (south) on Edmonton Trail. Just after 9th Avenue, you’ll spot Boogie’s on the left in a tiny strip mall. If you’re craving a good burger on a Sunday, then you’re out of luck because they will be closed.

    The ambiance at Boogie’s hints at retro, with a bar and video-game tables. You can play an old-fashioned video game while chowing down. The music was loud but still acceptable to most of us.

    At Boogie’s you build a burger with the add-ons and toppings you love. If you want 4 patties, then go for it, and if you like pineapple or banana peppers, by all means add them.

    So you can get a plain burger (the one I like), or you can make something really special. If inspiration is lacking, you can select one that someone else has built (and named after the creator) before you.

    Don’t feel like meat? You don’t have to miss out – Boogie’s also has a Veggie Patty.

    Aside from burgers, the menu offers hot dogs or chicken sandwiches.

    For the side, choose from Fries, Spicy Fries, Onion Rings, or Yam Fries (which look more like chips).

    And how does everything taste? The burgers are so good that you never want to finish or leave, and the Yam Fries are the perfect side. You will leave Boogie’s with a satisfied feeling that you’ll never get from a fast-food chain.

    Last thoughts: The question is not if I will go back, but when. Cool ambiance, tasty food. The service could be better, but they are busy. Don’t waste your money on fast food from a big chain when Calgary has Boogie’s.

    Food ++++Boogie's Burgers on Urbanspoon
    Service +++
    Ambiance ++++
    Washrooms +++

    Tags: ,

  • Banzai Sushi & Teriyaki House
    526A 4 Ave SW
    Calgary AB  T2P 0J6
    Phone: 403 262 9060

    We had just seen a Sunday matinee movie and were famished. On our way home we walked by Banzai Restaurant on 4th Avenue in downtown Calgary.

    We decided to stop for a bite to eat.

    On entering Banzai Sushi & Teriyaki House you find a fresh environment with great ambiance and decor. On this Sunday afternoon it was not particularly busy, but I think weekdays at lunch time would be a much different story.

    Banzai is best described as a Japanese fast-food restaurant. We each ordered a Bento Box (described as a “lunch box” but apparently available all day). The counter lady bade us to take a table then later brought our order.

    Each Bento Box ($8.25) came with miso soup, two spring rolls, rice, salad, and two “entrees”. Mine were beef and chicken. Both types of meat were cooked to perfection and topped with teriyaki sauce; the chicken was accompanied by shredded cabbage. The folks at Banzai know their marinades, because the beef and chicken had great flavor. The spring rolls were small and skimpy on filling, but they were crispy and tastily greasy.

    My friend’s entrees were California rolls (3 pieces) and tempura (2 shrimp, 1 yam, 1 cucumber, 2 mushrooms). The tempura was good and crisp, and the rolls were adequate.

    Last thoughts: Going to Banzai Sushi & Teriyaki House is a quick way to quench your craving for Japanese. For a fast-food establishment, it really delivered on taste, service, and atmosphere. I wouldn’t mind going back.

    Food ++++Banzai on Urbanspoon
    Service ++++
    Ambiance +++++
    Washrooms ++++

    Tags: , ,

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