NFT Radar: El Camion

There are a lot of good taco trucks in Seattle, but El Camion is one of the best. This isn’t your standard three-taco deal. Their selection is massive. It’s basically a restaurant on wheels. Taco-wise, they offer ELEVEN different fillings. If you’re not in a taco mood but still want something south-of-the-bordery, they have a about a million other dishes from burritos to tortas to special plates. They make their tamales fresh every day (fillings vary). Breakfast burritos are served all day. If a burrito the size of a baby isn’t enough food for you, tack on a side of rice and beans or chips and salsa. Speaking of salsa, their numerous varieties are also made daily in-house and some of them will really kick your ass. Wash it all down with one of several classic Mexican beverages including Horchata, Jarritos, Mexican Coke, pina coladas or, on those not-so-rare rainy days, Mexican hot chocolate. Bonus for the meat-averse, unlike most authentico taco trucks, they have vegetarian versions of just about everything. While El Camion is certainly worth a special trip, there is no better way to reward oneself after an always grueling visit to the adjacent Home Depot.


11728 Aurora Ave N 98133
206-367-2777
www.elcamionseattle.com

X-posted from Not For Tourists.

NFT Radar: The Rat and Raven

On The Rat and Raven has a very Clever Dunne’s vibe. Apparently, that’s not a coincidence. When frat annex, the Irish Immigrant, closed, the owners of the beloved Cap Hill Irish bar brought their cozy dive aesthetic to the U.D. There’s lots of space to spread out here. Big, cushy booths provide a stress-free environment for large impromptu gatherings or just watching the match. Shuffleboard is more interesting on their extra long table. Happy hour is 4-7 daily and all day on Sundays, offering lots of cheap, delicious drafts; among them all-too-drinkable Magner’s Irish Cider. They also take $2 off their heavenly pub food menu. Famished folks can partake of mind-blowing burgers like the Hawaiian or the Big Blue Shroom (all available veggie). The exceptional badass can take the Raven Challenge by downing a four beef patty, cheese and bacon burger. Victors get their photo on the wall of fame. If you’re just in a snacking mood, the Beer Battered Cheese Curds will hit the spot in a way mozzarella sticks never could. The weekend brunch, greasy in all the right ways, will cure whatever ails you (assuming you’re hung over), as will a pitcher of mimosas.


5260 University Way NE 98105
206-524-3166
www.ratandraven.com

X-posted from Not For Tourists.

NFT Radar: Peaks Frozen Custard

Molly Moon can’t be everywhere at once. And that’s just fine because my neighborhood has frozen custard. It’s like ice cream but smoother and, thanks to an egg yolk infusion, probably worse for you. That’s also what makes it so damned tasty. It’s slow churned to eliminate ice crystals and maximize silkiness. They have to make it fresh every two hours. This delicate process makes frozen custard a little more special. Even if you think their two constant flavors, chocolate and vanilla, sound ordinary, they have an ace in the hole. Alumni Flavors of the Day include Peanut Butter Cookie Dough, Salted Caramel Cashew and Chocolate Malt Madness. On holidays, they get sassy with themes. Valentine’s Day had Raspberry Red Velvet Cake. On May 5th, those mad geniuses made Horchata with Abuelita Chocolate. Cinco de Licious! If you really want to be a hero, you can bring a pint or two home. Peaks isn’t just frozen treats. They also do lunch by way of paninis, veggie chili, and stratas. Kiddies can enjoy the rocking moose and the rest of us can scam the free Wi-Fi and occasionally hear some live singer-songwriter types. But isn’t frozen custard enough of a draw?


1026 NE 65th St 98115
206-588-2701
www.peaksfrozencustard.com

X-Posted from Not For Tourists.

Film Threat Review: Inception

2010
PG-13
148 minutes

***

The trouble with making a movie about dreams is the same thing as the advantage to making a movie about dreams: Anything can happen. So what do you do with a literally limitless universe? In “Inception,” Christopher Nolan chooses to mostly ignore it. He takes a couple of dream elements (like flying and paradoxes) and expounds on them. But, for the most part, it’s a pretty linear heist movie set inside a dream world. He mainly focuses on the mind of his protagonist, a man plagued by guilt. It’s exciting, engaging, special effects-laden and certainly multi-layered, but “Inception” is nowhere near as dreamy as it could have been.

Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an Extraction Agent, typically hired to steal secrets from the subconscious minds of the rich and powerful. However, Cobb’s got his own secrets, which increasingly hinder his work productivity. Regardless, he’s the best in the business. (It’s unclear how competitive his industry is.) Mysterious circumstances keep him from reuniting with his small children, but Saito (Ken Watanabe), a powerful C.E.O., could make it all go away. That’s why Cobb agrees to take One. Last. Job. Cobb’s employer has a plan to do away with his future competition, Robert Fischer, Jr. (Cillian Murphy) who is about to inherit his dying father’s energy company. Only this time, instead of extracting an idea, Cobb must implant one. It’s called “Inception” and he’s only done it once before, with tragic results.

To carry out the mission, Cobb assembles a Pulp A-Team. Among them, his right-hand-man, Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an Impersonator (Tom Hardy), to play trusted figures in the subject’s life, and a chemist who can make sure that Fischer is sedated long enough to finish the job. Because he’s no longer mentally stable enough to do it himself, Cobb must also hire an architect (literally) to construct a world convincing enough to keep Fischer from suspecting that he’s been infiltrated. Cobb’s protégé is Ariadne (Ellen Page), who follows in her namesake’s footsteps, guiding Cobb through the labyrinth to prevent him from losing himself in the dream completely.

It’s a fine cast and everyone is up to the task at hand. DiCaprio fares well with the tortured brow-furrowing bit. Gordon-Levitt deftly channels a suave noir persona. Tom Hardy is every bit as charming and disarming as his character requires. Cillian Murphy’s big blues bring an ocean of sympathy to a potentially one-dimensional corporate-type. In fact, most of the supporting characters seem like fascinating individuals. Though they aren’t fleshed out on screen, one gets the impression that each of them could easily head an awesome spin-off film. I don’t know who should get more credit for that: the actors or the writer.

Speaking of writing, Nolan must have gone through a hell of a lot of cocktail napkins to outline this puppy. You’ll probably want to hit the bathroom beforehand, but it’s not a hard script to follow if you pay attention. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the rest of the team constantly explain the rules to newbie, Ariadne. Even when the narrative enters dreams-within-dreams and then dreams-within-dreams-within-dreams and deeper still, this is a story that’s been crafted and coded for mainstream audiences. It’s kind of a shame, actually. Instead of constantly upping the ante by seeing how many layers deep they could go, it would have been much more interesting to focus and expound on one dreamscape.

Anytime we’re talking dreams-on-film, it’s impossible not to think of David Lynch, the master of dream approximation. Apart from lots of slow motion (making “Inception” at least 30 minutes longer than it needs to be), floating and some M.C. Echer-esque architecture, nothing particularly weird or dream-like happens. No one does anything random or irrational. Humans often have more than one dream in a sleep cycle. How cool would it have been to witness that transition? In real dreams, nothing makes immediate sense. When you wake up, you must go back over the events, sometimes repeatedly, in order to interpret them. Often, you never fully understand what it all means. Perhaps corporate heirs do have dreams this linear and straightforward. Of course, it’s possible we’re not in Fischer’s dream at all. Even so, there’s little need to go back over “Inception.”

I can’t help but feel that with less studio pressure, Nolan could have given us a film of Lynchian proportions. It might not have been the blockbuster that “Inception” will inevitably become, but it would have been an instant indie classic. Apparently, Nolan spent 10 years writing the script. One more year might have yielded something mind-blowing. As it stands now, “Inception” is merely mind-tickling. As the Impersonator says, “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, dah-ling.” I couldn’t agree more.

Originally published on FilmThreat.com (now defunct).