Monday, May 24, 2010

So long, farewell!

(I'm not going anywhere when it comes to writing this blog, never you fear)

As I'm sure everyone knows, last night was the season finale of Lost. I've tried several times to get into that show, and try as I might, I just can't. I read how the show ended, and I will not say how it ended... but really, JJ? It definitely had a huge cultural effect on our society, and will go down as one of the big shows of the 2000s.

Yesterday, Ricky and I spent some time remembering other great TV show finales over tea at Jaho. Some of our favorites were:

Newhart: It turns out Newhart was just a dream of Bob Newhart's character from The Bob Newhart Show. Wakes up in bed saying he just had the craziest dream about this weird little Vermont town where nothing made sense, and who turns over to tell him to go back to sleep but... Suzanne Plechette, his wife on The Bob Newhart Show. A - wait for it -mazing.

ER: I will say that this show went down in quality in the last few years (basically when Dr. Green died, in my book) but on a day when a lot of shit went down, an ambulance pulls up, and all the doctors spring to action. I loved this mainly because at a hospital, and especially this one, it's not going to end. Life will go on for these doctors, and there'll be years of drama for years to come. We just won't be there to see it. Life goes on in Chicago.

MASH: The war ends, and everyone goes home, and the whole episode has that strong feeling that these characters will probably never see each other again. This was, for me at least, hard to swallow, since they've been through so much. BJ and Hawkeye voice what we're all thinking, then that memorable aerial shot of "good bye" written out in stones.

Seinfeld: Neither of us really liked this one, it felt contrived and very cheesey. We both agreed they should have gone the ER route, since it should have been a finale about nothing.

Freaks and Geeks: We both freaking love this show, and thought it was cut short. We loved the following: the freak winds up playing D&D with the geeks, and they kind of meld into one; Nick and Lindsey have that moment of realization that they will never end up together; and then, that final moment with Lindsey and Kim. Over the sweet and simple song Ripple. Makes me cry so hard.

The Wonder Years: Kevin doesn't end up with Winnie, and his dad dies young. *sobs*

St. Elsewhere: This is a long joke between me and my friend Erin, that everything is just the daydreams of an Autistic child. Weird, way out in left field, but pretty awesome.

Quantum Leap: It turns out Dr. Sam Beckett is dead and has been dead all along, and his leaping is kind of like heaven/purgatory and that he can never leap home again. (dead all along? Gee, that sounds familiar...)

Six Feet Under: Showing how everyone dies? And that Claire lives a long, full life? Well played.

The Sopranos: Any show where Leo swears that the cable went out at the worst moment and we all freak out, then go "...ohhhh well played" when the credits roll is a-okay in my book.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I've had the last two days off from work, so I decided to spend some time at one of my favorite haunts in downtown Salem, Jaho. Locals will read this and say "hold the phone, there are two Jahos... which one are you talking about". For the sake of ease, for this post I am talking about the Jaho across the street from Bunghole Liquors. At a later time, I'll talk about the wholesale vendor and coffee house Jaho down the street.

One thing I like about Jaho is that it seems to exist as a lot of different things to a lot of different people. When I was there, it appeared to be a microcosm of the population of Salem: college students, the retired, hip twentysomethings, artists, and families. If only a witch or a historical re-enactment was getting a bagel here, then it'd be complete. Usually when I visit here, I bring a book or some knitting, so I can sit back and people watch for an hour or so while I enjoy my meal.

I think this has to do with the wide range its menu covers. Jaho offers not only teas and coffees and baked goods, but also breads, desserts, sandwiches, salads, soup, an gelato. Yes, gelato. And from what I've heard, it's homemade.

Their coffees and teas are all pretty standard fare for a coffee house. I've had everything from lattes to tea to chai. All are good and what you'd expect from a coffee house like this, so I won't spend too much time on them. The desserts and baked goods are also standard fare and I believe made off site, so I won't discuss them either. They also seem to have a lot of bubble teas, which were wildly popular when I was in there last, but I opted not to have one, as the texture of tapioca freaks me out.

I recently had one of their lemonades, which was quite tasty. Jaho makes their lemonade fresh, and it tastes it. You can also get an added flavor to it. Upon the suggestion of the barista, I had an apricot lemonade. The apricot blended nicely with the lemonade and sweetened it up slightly. I'll definitely be back to try another flavor combination, such as ginger, watermelon, or chipotle.

Jaho's sandwiches are average. Mainly pressed sandwiches or clubs. I will say, I'm always very impressed with how crisp their bacon is, but it should be noted that it was clearly prepared at an earlier time. The sandwiches are not filling, and not really why you go there.

The gelato, however, is one to note. The flavors available change regularly, depending on the owner's mood, a barista tipped me off on. I'm a big fan of the pistachio, biscotti, and mint varieties. Portions are small for the price, but the flavors are so strong, you don't notice or really care.

The one down side to Jaho is the price, but this comes with the territory of a coffee house. Bagels are overpriced/highway robbery for the quality and size (think Lender's Bagels). Sandwiches are also overpriced for the size of the meal. A small club comes to over $8, perhaps $2 too many.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lena Horne

I almost wrote Lena Freaking Horne, but I decided to keep it respectful.

I read this morning that class act Lena Horne passed away at age 92. Let me say this: I LOVE LOVE LOVE Lena Horne. So beautiful, a hell of a voice, gorgeous, and just a great person. Her voice is like butter. Sultry, soulful butter.

Here are some videos of her singing her big heart out. There's really nothing else I can say about her, because it wouldn't live up to how great she is.

Night and Day at Sugar Mags

I'm back! I'm back! After a few week hiatus due to work, I am back with some new food reviews, music musings, and the like.

I've wanted to review this Gloucester fave for awhile, but I wanted to wait until I returned for a fresh bite to eat. Well, I got to go back for both breakfast and lunch two weeks in a row, so now I can do a meal vs. meal sort of review. So now the morning and afternoon review of Sugar Magnolias, a popular Gloucester haunt on Main St. Sugar Mags has been opened for years and is always packed for breakfast. Unlike other Gloucester breakfast restaurants, Sugar Mags tries to dress up old standards such as pancakes, eggs, and sandwiches. I'll break this review into Breakfast and Lunch:

Any Cape Ann resident can tell you that getting a table on weekends at Sugar Mags can take awhile or be at times impossible. Most recently, I went there for my birthday breakfast with Ricky. We lucked out this time and didn't have to wait too long, but I've had to wait for about 30+ minutes on busier weekends. A nice touch, though, is that there is complimentary coffee for patrons who need to stand around for a bit. But don't worry, as it's worth the wait.

Sugar Mags' breakfast menu is quite expansive, covering all staples such as eggs, pancakes, french toast, and omelets. Not only do they have traditional flavors, like blueberry pancakes and eggs benedict, but also twists on classics. The last time I was there, I got the crunchy French Toast, and Ricky got the Irish Eggs Benedict. Crunch French Toast is a thickly cut bread coated with granola, then cooked. The granola adds a distinctive flavor and texture, which was nice.

Irish Eggs Benedict is a favorite of mine as well. Instead of Canadian Bacon and an English Muffin, Sugar Mags serves a poached egg and hollandaise sauce over home made hash and grilled corn bread. This version feels far heartier than it's original counterpart. The hash is delicious on its own, but soars in the dish.

I also strongly recommend the Carrot Cake pancakes, plump with carrots and raisins and served with a maple butter. On a prior visit, Ricky and I split an order and had it with eggs. It may be a bit too filling and sweet on its own, but was a nice "palate cleaner" with our more savory dishes.

Prices were decent, especially for the large servings. Our egg dishes came with a generous order of hash browns. Service was spotty, and we had to wait a bit for a full place setting, but I blame that on the very crowded restaurant. Definitely worth a visit if you're in the area and looking for a creative twist on the traditional fare.

The following week, we found ourselves back at Sugar Mags, only this time for lunch. It was a very different dining experience. Sugar Mags' lunch menu includes twists on favorites, such as chicken salads, clubs, and the like, but I feel it missed the mark ever so slightly. First off, seating was not an issue this second time around. I don't think it was a fluke, as I've walked past it on other weekends at lunchtime, and have seen many empty seats.

The sandwiches were interesting. I got the curried chicken salad, which included grapes and walnuts. The curry added an interesting flavor, and it was nice to have the grapes add a sweet note and cut down on spiciness. My guest got the chicken club, which he said was tasty, but appeared to be a little greasy and messy. Ricky got a buffalo chicken wrap, and had no complaints on spiciness and amount of blue cheese in the wrap.

The portions seemed a bit less generous at lunchtime. Fries were available, and were plentiful, but if you didn't opt to add fries, you got a single bag of Lays potato chips. Standard fare, and as Ricky said, a little disappointing if you know that a few hours earlier, you could be enjoying fresh hash browns. It seems a shame they don't provide their own chips, or a more substantial brand of potato chips.

All in all, while I didn't hate lunch at Sugar Mags, knowing how great breakfast is, I'd recommend you visit in the morning instead. You'll be pleasantly surprised with their dishes and the ambiance of the restaurant.