A random trip to Hogwarts

What do you do after school ends?  Why go to another school, Hogwarts school that is.  The Wizarding World of Harry potter recently opened at Universal Studios Hollywood and me being the none Harry Potter fan, just had to go. Follow along if you dare.

I am going to be 100% honest with you, I have never read the books, never saw the movies in theaters, and definitely don’t know the difference between slytherin and Hufflepuff.  Yes, I have seen the movies and yes they are mildly entertaining.  But no I am not into dragons, so this was an outsider’s (Muggle) point of view.


Even before I crossed the gates into Hogsmead I knew I was in a magical place.  I saw people of all ages dressed up in Hogwarts uniforms with wands at the ready in case any dementors decided to show up and ruin the fun.  Luckily none showed up, unless you consider crying babies dementors.

The first stop was in trying out the famous Butter Beer.  All I knew was that it had the word “beer” in the name so I was fair game, unfortunately there was no alcohol, but instead was loaded IMG_4249with sugar.  Being a hot day I decided to go with the frozen version.  It was definitely a sweet concoction that tasted like butterscotch topped with sweet cream on top.  I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the beverage, but I did, so much that I got a second mug of the stuff later on before I left.

There were two rides at the place, and I will be honest and say that the only one worth waiting in line for is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.  It is a mix between live action and 3d imagery.  You ride through the Harry Potter world in a seat with your feet dangling.  It is pretty awesome, and you get to go throughout all of Hogwarts as well as partake in a game of Quidditch.  Overall a fun ride that I would go on again.  The Flight of the Hippogriff is a mild (very mild) roller coaster that I would have enjoyed if I was maybe 12, so as an adult it comes up very short.


After a few beers at Moe’s Tavern in Springfield, I returned to Hogsmeade and made my way to the Three Broomsticks for a magical meal.  As you can see I ordered the Beef Sunday roast which was prime rib with potatoes and vegetables.  Surprisingly for a theme park the food was actually pretty decent, and you can also order butter beer, or actual beer to go alongside your meal.


Overall, I would visit the Wizarding World of Harry potter again.  I have never been to the Florida location so I can’t compare the two, but to me it seems like the Hollywood version might be smaller than the Florida location based on the website’s info. In any case, if you are in Ca and don’t plan on flying to the swamps of Florida anytime soon, come to Hollywood and enjoy a butter beer or two!!    EXPECTO PATRONUM!!!!!





Shake Shack in California

I remember my first time trying Shake Shack, it was at the Upper West Side location on Columbus and West 77th street after a visit to the Museum of Natural History.  I had heard lots of chatter about the burger joint, and me being the lover of burgers (especially In-N-Out), I just had to stop by.  It was awesome, and every trip to the city required at least one stop at a Shake Shack for their signature Shack Burger and a pint of ShackMeister Ale brought to you by Brooklyn Brewery. Unfortunately there was no locations in So-Cal.

Just recently they FINALLY opened up their VERY first location in West Hollywood. I was anxious for the opportunity to enjoy a delicious Shack Burger and a pint of my favorite brewery’s beer!   Yesterday I finally was able to stop in and enjoy it!!!

As a native son of Southern California I am a diehard In-N-Out fan! Double Double, animal style and a Neapolitan shake please!!  I have a little secret. Shake Shack gives In-N-Out a run for their money.  Let me explain why.


Burger: What you see above is their signature Shack burger.  If you look closely you’ll see that the meat patty isn’t perfectly circular, meaning it is hand formed.  It had just the right amount of pink inside, and not dry at all.  Juicy as a burger should be.  Lettuce and tomato was fresh.  The potato bun is amazing. It is soft, chewy and soaks up the juice of the patty perfectly.  After doing some research I learned that their buns are provided by Martins Famous Pastry Shoppe in Pennsylvania, which started around the 1950’s.

Fries: Crinkle cut, crispy, and super awesome.  I love these fries over any other hamburger joint.

Beer: Their House beer, called ShackMeister Ale is brewed by Brooklyn Brewery which also happens to be my favorite brewery.  I love their beer.

Although I haven’t tried their custard shakes, I have heard great things about them.

Conclusion: So which burger is better, In-N-Out or Shake Shack?  I am going to give them a tie, they both have their strengths, but Shake Shack serves beer!!  So that just might give them the edge.  Give them a try, I am sure you won’t be disappointed!!

Scenes with Music Part I


Growing up I was always fascinated by films and the power that music had alongside it.  Imagine Star Wars, Jaws or Indiana Jones without John Williams, really try and you’ll end up with a movie without much hope, suspense or adventure.  Music helps the movie establish itself, it can create the environment where the characters live or simply just help introduce the character.

Below are 5 of my favorite scenes with (Lyric based) music that help make the scene.  Mind you these are in no specific order, aside from the very last one which is my overall favorite of all time!!

Slumdog Millionaire

Danny Boyle has made some great films set alongside great music, for example, you can check out Trainspotting if you haven’t seen it.   But for me it is Slumdog Millionaire.  Some people really liked the best picture winner while others loathed it. I am part of the latter, although as as a Best Picture winner I think there could be some arguments for the other nominees, which I’ll save for another post.  Anways, my favorite music scene is when the two kids are “hustlin” on the train while MIA’s Paper Planes plays in the background.  Maybe it’s the fact that MIA sampled The Clash classic Straight to Hell (My favorite track from Combat Rock), but it made the scene beyond memorable, at least for me.

“Bonafide Hustla, makin my name”  

Saturday Night Fever

I remember growing up in Orange County, Ca and my brother who is older than me playing the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack on the record player (we’re old school).  I loathed the Beegee sound like you would not believe, always preferring the thrashing sound of punk, and then one day I finally watched the film Saturday Night Fever.  I was hit by a semi truck as I watched the intro scene of John Travolta  walking down 86th street in Bay Ridge while Saturday Night Fever played, the one song I loathed!!  I was taken aback by the coolness of this guy from Brooklyn strutting down the street with a can of paint, no one but Travolta could have made it as cool as he did and the song made it soo much cooler.  Oh and if you ever go to Lenny’s Pizza in Brooklyn make sure you order two slices and stack them up on top of another!!  

Silence of the Lambs

Ok look this movie has a ton of great scenes but seriously my favorite scene is when Buffalo Bill is getting all “dolled” up while his hostage is yelling from what looks like an empty well, all the while the eerie sounds of Q Lazzarus “GoodBye, Horses” plays in the background which makes the scene soo much more eerie.  To be honest I really like the song and the singer, but whenever i play the song some people get freaked out like as if I’m going to start cross dressing in someone else’s skin and then throw them in a well and yell, “it rubs the lotion on it’s skin or else it gets the hose again”.  Seriously?!?!?!  It’s a great song but perhaps that is why this scene and song make such a great combo.  Perhaps one day you’ll be driving in your car and this song will start playing and you’ll catch yourself saying  “I’d f*ck me”.  

Reservoir Dogs

It’s so hard to choose a song and scene combo from Tarantino’s catalog.  You have Ingloruous Basterds with the David Bowie song Cat People or Pulp Fiction with Neil Diamond’s song “Girl You Will be a Woman Soon”, but Reservoir Dogs’ ear cutting scene has them all beat at least in my book.  The band Stealers’s Wheel’s song “Stuck in the Middle With You” is playing on K_Billy’s Super Sounds of the 70’s while Michael Madsen’s character is preparing to filet a cop who is tied up to a chair.  I’ can’t tell you how many times I’ve played this song and started doing what I call the “Madsen Strut” while holding a make believe knife in hand.  What an amazing song/scene combo!!  “That as good for you as it was for me”


I don’t really remember the first time I saw Marty Scorsese’s Goodfellas but I was hooked from the get go, I mean this movie literally convinced me that it was always important to have a good pair of italian wingtips.   Aside from this being the greets Scorsese film, this classic has the best tracking shots ever captured on film!!  Larry McConkey who was the steadicam operator during the scene stated that they only took “eight takes and then went to lunch”.  Wait, one of the best scenes in cinema history and it only took eight takes???  UNBELIEVABLE!!! (If you are interested in reading more about Larry McConkey here is a great interview) Aside from the legendary tracking shot, the best thing about this scene is the choice of music.  Scorsese is a genius when it comes to choosing music for specific scenes, from the point when the character henry drops off the car then all the way to the inside of the club, you hear the sounds of the 1960’s girl group The Crystals with their hit song “And Then He Kiss Me” (produced by Phil Spector).   I found a link HERE that shows the scene with and without the music, watch that and you’ll see how the music adds so much depth to the scene.  It’s the perfect song choice to show how the character Henry played by Ray Liotta courts his future wife Karen played by Lorraine Bracco.

Karen-What do you do for a living?

Henry-I’m in construction.

Karen-(While rubbing his hands) You don’t feel like you’re in construction?

Henry- Ummm I’m a union delegate.  

How to deal with “NO”


No!  At one time or another every single one of us has been dealt the dreaded No!  Whether it was for a new job, a school, a special project or program, or an internship, it just plain hurts no matter the circumstances.

Even though being told “No” is nothing personal, we seem to take it on a deeply personal level.  Being rejected from a great job is one of the most impersonal situations one can come across.  Some random person in Human Resources made a decision to give you an interview based on a one page document and then makes an entire opinion about you within 5 minutes of meeting you at the interview, this is anything but personal.  Did they ask you what your favorite food was, or what you like to do during a rainy day, or perhaps what your favorite baseball team is?  Highly doubtful!!  Instead they’ll ask you questions like “Tell us about yourself,  where you’ll say every possible adjective (like the ones listed here http://work.chron.com/8-adjectives-use-during-interview-18569.html ) but nothing that will describe your true personality.

When I was recently rejected from a year-long project I began to second guess myself, basing my self-worth on someone else’s 15 minutes opinion about me, which is one of the worst things a person can do to himself.  So what did I do?  Here are the 3 stepsI went through:

  1. I had to see that this wasn’t a personal decision.  There’s two possibilities for their no: (a) My unique shape didn’t fit into their puzzle or (b) they didn’t get to see that if they flipped me around a few times more then I would have actually fit quite nicely. That’s not my fault, that is theirs which brings me to number two.
  2. It’s their loss not mine.  Sure I am missing out on a great project, that could have given me some good experience but they also lost someone that does not exactly think within a box.  I am not (nor are you) the average cookie cutter shape, we have unique shapes that enable us to see things from a unique angle.  So don’t see it as your loss, see it as theirs!!!
  3. There are more doors to try.  So one door of opportunity gets shut in your face.  If you are like me then you probably felt that this was your only door of opportunity and thats that.  You have to remember that life is literally a hallway of doors.  Everyday we make decisions, choosing this door rather than that door.  So this one door gets shut in your face, there’s many more doors to try.  You have to remind yourself that this is not the last door of your life.  tumblr_kt5xm7259a1qa1xnko1_500

Overall rejection sucks, but it’s how we deal with it that matters.  After I got rejected, I spent a few days drowning in self pity, but eventually I got up, wiped the dirt off my jeans and instead of trying more doors I actually made my own door.  I have a few entrepreneurial ideas currently in motion that I think will give me more value and experience than that project I was rejected from. So  remember, don’t take it personal, its their loss not yours, and there are more doors to try or just simply make your own.

I am a big fan of TEDtalks so here is a great list for you to enjoy:  https://www.ted.com/playlists/234/talks_to_help_you_shake_off_re

Welcome to my world!

Cheers and welcome to my new blog!!   I am slightly all over the wall when it comes to my interest so if you like any of the following you are in the right place:

  • Tech
  • Movies/books
  • Finance
  • Travel
  • Self Improvement
  • The Good life
  • Photography
  • Product reviews
  • Food!

AND if you aren’t into any of those things then maybe you’ll become a convert after reading my blog a few times.   So sit back, grab a cup of coffee and join me on this most excellent adventure!!