Movie: The Expendables

Movie: The Expendables

Written and directed by Sylvester Stallone. This is a movie starring a range of stars from old 80’s and 90’s action movies, with ridiculous character names: Jason Statham as Lee Christmas, Jet Li as Yin Yang, Randy Couture as Toll Road, Dolph Lundgren as Gunnar Jensen, Terry Crews as Hale Caesar, Mickey Rourke as Tool, and Bruce Willis as “Mr. Church”, plus a bonus Arnold Schwarzenegger as “Trench”.

Statham is the only actor from a more modern genre of action films, and manages to hold his own with the veterans quite well, while staying with his usual style of action. Wikipedia suggests that others were approached but chose not to participate.

I felt the movie was too slow-moving in its setup. The attempts to add depth to the characters were variously laughable and a little painful to watch (eg. Mickey Rourke, whose character could easily have been omitted from the film), and – while some of the action scenes were indeed impressive – the film felt much too long for what it was.

If you’re a die-hard (excuse the pun) fan of action movies, then you’ll welcome the opportunity to watch an action film made with values from years gone by, but if you’re looking for any sort of complexity, you’ll want to look further afield.

500 cafe review posts in 1,658 days!

A little milestone for the blog here: tonight I posted my 500th cafe review post.

It all started with the little but great Seed Cafe (now closed) at Wynyard back on February 10, 2006 with my trusty old i-Mate K-JAM. Since then I’ve upgraded to an iPhone 3G, become a father, switched to decaf, and changed jobs twice.

It’s mostly been clear sailing: I’ve had one cafe owner ask me to take a post down (and I complied), and one ask me not to take a photo. I’ve been recognised only a few times, which suits me just fine: – I’m happy to review with as much anonymity as I can muster.

Quite a few of the cafes I’ve reviewed have changed management, or type of coffee, or closed down since reviewing them, and there have been a couple of cafes I’ve reviewed twice, but it’s been a lot of fun forcing myself to go to out-of-the-way spots in search of a good coffee (more recently a good decaf).

And the list goes on: there are still a few more on my “to-visit” list, and plenty more to explore.

Is there anything in particular you’d like me to add to my normal review “template”? At the moment, I try to cover

  • brand of coffee
  • address of cafe
  • rough description of cafe
  • description of the coffee – usually a decaf latte these days
  • something good about the cafe

Am I missing anything? What’s your favourite cafe?

The Falconer, Surry Hills

The Falconer, Surry Hills

Golden Cobra coffee (Timothy Dalton blend decaf). 31 Oxford St, Surry Hills. How many times have I walked past here and not noticed it?!

interior of the falconer (1/2)
Walk in past the licenced bar and coffee machine and your seating choice is green vinyl clad booths – if you prefer, there are a couple of ordinary tables at the front of the cafe.

interior of the falconer (2/2)
There’s a big collection of vinyl records on display, and an old record player is playing the kind of tracks that wouldn’t be out of place in the film "High Fidelity".

Coffee is promptly made, and – though there’s no decaf grinder in sight – the beans appear to be ground on site at some stage. It’s a fresh tasting, smooth cup with a complex aftertaste: straw and caramel.

beef burger and fries, the falconer
The meals are really well made too: from the specials board was this burger with fries ($15).

A really relaxed place to spend time. Highly recommended. Unsurprised to find that this cafe is the work of (former “Well Connected” owner Jack Sheen).

sermon – assurance

If you’ve been following my tweets over the past few weeks, you’ll know that I’ve been working on a sermon for the last little while. Unlike the last one, it’s on a more “Christian-y” topic – the working title was “How can I know I have been forgiven by God and belong to Christ?”.

Obviously this is a topic that is of more interest to Christians than to non-Christians, but I’ve tried to explain any jargon that was involved, in case you’re curious. What I haven’t done (there just wasn’t time in the format) was tried to explain why you might be prepared to agree that the bible is trustworthy, and represents the teaching of Jesus, and indeed of God – if you’re not at that point, then you’ll probably have trouble following the rest of the thread of the sermon.

At least one person has asked if I’ll be podcasting it so I’ve taken the recording from my iPhone (using Voice Memo) and converted it to MP3: – pardon the rustling of papers and the occasional bump of the lectern.

Download the sermon (22:43) (the bible readings were Genesis 15:1-6, and Romans 4:16-5:2.

I would – as ever – welcome any feedback you have for me.

Store Espresso, Camperdown

Store Espresso, Camperdown

Euroblend coffee. 17 Fowler St, Camperdown. Old general store, converted into a beautiful cafe space. Light timber touches. Fresh flowers on the table. Soft music piped in, and a lovely display of product on the shelves. It’s the little touches that make a difference – the wallpaper has real character.

amazing wallpaper - store espresso, camperdown

Mains around $10, biscotti around the $3-4 mark. Water for the regulars, served in big jugs with freshly sliced lemon.

interior - store espresso, camperdown

Large communal table seats 15, and that’s the only seating option – a development application in the window suggests hope for outdoor seating soon. Blankets are available for those who want to relax in the park across the street.

orderly product display - store espresso, camperdown

No sign of a decaf grinder, the coffees are churned out really fast, which is a positive for those in a hurry. Coffee is a little floury in texture, but is otherwise fine.

D.O.M Coffee Roaster, Riverwood

D.O.M Coffee Roaster, Riverwood

D.O.M Coffee. Shop 1 Riverwood Train Station, Belmore Rd, Riverwood. A difficult space to work with, much less make into a welcoming, homey space: this is an achievement. You can see their commitment to the environment in their choice of bio cups, and there are a range of different roasted coffee blends on display.

There’s no decaf grinder, with the preground coffee stored in a resealable plastic container. It’s a really good decaf; sweet, complex, smooth. If you’re commuting, it’s $3.90 well spent.

Revolver Cafe, Annandale

revolver cafe, annandale

Morgan’s coffee. 291 Annandale St, Annandale. I’ve been to Annandale a few times, and so when I looked up this place on my list of “cafes to visit one day”, I was surprised that I’d never seen it before. Arrive there, and you’ll realise that this is the only retailer for a reasonable stretch in any direction. Plenty of places to park on the street nearby, and a couple of comfortable places to sit while you’re queueing.

place setting - revolver

Arrive here late for breakfast on a Sunday, and you can expect to spend 15-20 minutes waiting for a seat. As it was, we took an outdoor table – the first available offering, and settled in. While you’re waiting, the staff are an absolute pleasure, though – they’re happy to keep you updated with availability, and ensure a warm reception at your table (there are even blankets provided for patrons, on the back of each seat). This is a place where the details have been carefully thought out.

vegetarian big breakfast
Revolver Vegie Big Breakie: two baked eggs, in housemade beans, buttered mushrooms, roast tomato, avocado, danish fetta, hummus & toast – $16

After surveying the menu, I’m actually stuck between a few choices. When in doubt, I generally order a vegetarian big breakfast. Anyone can make a plate full of bacon and other delicious treats work well, but if you can make an appealing dish for vegetarians that doesn’t feel like leftovers, then you’re doing something right.

On a busy day like the day we visited, there was a long wait before the food arrived – we’d finished our first round of coffees and were almost persuaded to order a second round before the food arrived!

Indeed, the vegie breakfast is amazing. The eggs are a little bit more runny than I’m expecting, but the pan is so hot that they cook after you break into them with knife and fork. A great mix of flavours between the beans, the fetta and the avocado – I surprise myself by eating the whole thing!

big breakfast
Revolver Big Breakie: two eggs baked in housemade beans, honey cured bacon, roast tomato, mushrooms, pork fennel sausage & toast – $16

For the carnivores, there is a more spectacular option – the big breakie looks and smells amazing, and is well received by my breakfast companions.

hot chocolate
Hot Chocolate

I wasn’t a huge fan of the hot chocolate: I think I prefer my hot chocolate to be thicker, and stronger in flavour. It’s perfectly drinkable, but not amazing.

Ricotta Hotcakes with daily fruit compote and Maple Ricotta – $12.5

The hotcakes, on the other hand are amazing. So incredibly sweet, and with great texture – I don’t normally order something like this, but I’m seriously tempted to try them on a return visit.

regular coffee
decaf coffee (regular size)

And this brings me to the coffee. I couldn’t see a decaf grinder in my brief time inside the cafe, and – while perfectly drinkable – this didn’t seem to be the amazing coffee I was hoping for.

vegetarian breakfast - detail

In short, this is a place to visit when you’re in the mood to savour some great, well-made food. Don’t come here if you’re in a rush, but bring a big appetite.

social innovation barcamp sydney, 2010

my trusty rig for the day - iPad, keyboard and my iPhone.

I’d planned to come along to Social Innovation Barcamp Sydney since I first heard about it. Knowing that my poor old Powerbook G4 wouldn’t last the distance of a whole day’s note taking, I put the call out to twitter for a laptop or iPad I could borrow. Amazingly I had a few people offer their gear, and I took the offer of an iPad as I’d never tried one out for anything much before.

As it turned out, it did a great job going the distance. I grabbed my bluetooth keyboard to sync with it, and manage to take about 5700 words worth of notes during the day. I managed to get to nine different sessions including the opening keynote by former NSW Premier Bob Carr. There were a range of topics around making society a better place – I even ran a session on “how to explain twitter to people”.

A Barcamp is the kind of conference that is “un-organised”. A couple of people take responsibility for making sure people know it’s on, but the sessions, and who is presenting, is determined on the day. Here are the sessions I went to:

  1. Bob Carr opening session
  2. Twitter for Direct Action (and cupcakes) – @kcarruthers
  3. Slow Projects – @stevehopkins
  4. Generation Y – @beaney
  5. explaining twitter to people – @cafedave
    and then lunch
  6. using your voice for direct engagement – @timnoonan
  7. what’s your social innovation strategy? – @franksting
  8. government and web 2.0 – @whtmakesuhappy
  9. unestablish yourself – @sharner and @infoding (thanks mei!)

It was great to meet and catch up with a lot of twitter friends: – especially Anne BB who I’ve known from twitter for over a year, but never met until today.

Some highlights were

  • thinking through what information (“killer facts”) help shape public opinion and hence political will
  • a better understanding to the link between an environmental trading scheme and actual success in fixing global warming
  • the importance of moving beyond just interacting with people online, and taking action in the real world
  • that sometimes it’s worth taking on a project just because it is good and fun
  • some insights into the way that young people think
  • that I still need to work on the way I explain twitter – there are a lot of concepts to understand before someone understands where they might find benefit in twitter
  • how being relaxed and comfortable with your self has a big impact in the way you speak
  • that making small changes to your house, and to your life, is the only way you can alter the impact you are having on the planet
  • that the lessons I’ve learned in working in social media in big organisations apply to some extent in government organisations too
  • that big lifestyle changes are sometimes necessary to achieve the things you want to in life

More details to follow when I have a chance to go through my notes in more detail.

Big thanks again to un-organisers @mia_will and @kcarruthers

Insieme cafe, Ultimo

Insieme cafe, Ultimo

Caffe Aiello coffee. Shop 1, 513-519 Wattle St, Ultimo. This is one of the more upmarket places to eat in the Ultimo area, and so it’s not until a suitable occasion arises that I have the chance to check it out.

No decaf grinder: the decaf is pre-ground and stored in an airtight container. The decaf latte is served quite hot, but – after a first, somewhat worrying taste – it mellows out to be a good complement to the meal.

Great pizzas – fresh ingredients, light, tasty.