Interstellar (2014)


Original Theatrical Release Date: November 7, 2014
Director: Christopher Nolan

In the near future, Earth and its inhabitants are in danger. Crops are being destroyed by something called “The Blight” and food is growing scarce. The entire planet is beginning to resemble the American Dust Bowl of the early 1900’s. A farmer, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), is a former engineer and pilot who is struggling with the way the world now works and his own wasted potential. When his daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy) discovers coordinates through a strange magnetic phenomenon in her room, he heads toward the location the coordinates indicated and finds himself helming a mission at the behest of  the remnants of the NASA space program to make a last-ditch effort at colonizing another planet in order to save humanity.

This movie had a lot going on in it, and a lot going for it. Christopher Nolan, even if he makes the occasional yawner *cough*DarkKnightRises*cough* also knows his stuff – despite what critics might think about his film making missteps. I went to see this in theaters with my girlfriend and although the movie was a little too long for my tastes (169 minutes!) what I experienced was at least worth one viewing, although this is one of those movies you could watch multiple times in order to see all the little things you might’ve missed or may not have gotten the first time through.

The acting was all really well-done, although I’ve never been a massive fan of McConaughey. However, he does decent work and this film is no exception. He’s actually been churning out some decent material recently, come to think of it. I will never get tired of Anne Hathaway (because I naturally have a crush on every brunette actress in the land) so it was nice to see her opposite McConaughey for the duration of the film.

As far as the science behind the film goes? That, I leave up to you to decide and I can’t really get into a ton of the specifics without spoiling everything – but I really think this movie requires a suspension of disbelief in order to enjoy it fully.

With that said, there are some cool action scenes (really only a couple) and there is a surprise (at least for me) cameo by Matt Damon that I thought was really neat, and the robot TARS voiced by Bill Irwin was really, really cool. For me, TARS made the film, elevating a lot of dialogue and character interactions with brief spots of humor.

All-in-all, this was a very enjoyable film and I would definitely watch it again, but it had some small problems and could have used some more editing to cut out some flashy and uninteresting parts. (As much as I love Lithgow, his character really didn’t add anything at all to the story).

JOE Rating: ★★★★

Movie Trailer For Interstellar


Katie Made Bakery – Portland, Maine

Katie Made Bakery - Portland, Maine

Street Address: 181 Congress Street, Portland, Maine
Hours Of Operation:
Mon: Closed
Tue-Wed: 7:30am-4:30pm
Thu-Fri: 7:30am-6:00pm
Sat: 8:00am-3:00pm
Sun: 8:00am-12:00pm

I’ve become more familiar with businesses on Munjoy Hill and the surrounding neighborhood a bit more since my girlfriend started living there about a year ago. Since there are so many good places to eat, I figured I’d try some of them out and put the results down for all to see on my blog. I frequently search on the web to see if a place is highly-regarded before I seek out food there, so I figured there would be some use for my reviews of these places.

Katie Made is a little bakery situated right up near the Portland Observatory on Congress Street, mid-hill. It’s an unsuspecting little place and one might easily overlook it since parking on the hill can be spotty depending on what time of day and year one visits. However, if you’re in the area and want to try out some baked goods and maybe a little breakfast or lunch, you won’t want to miss out.

I’ve been going to Katy Made for a while now, and they’ve never given me anything resembling a bad experience. The staff consists of Katie herself, who you can see toiling with a smile in the kitchen and who even hand-delivers your food to you if she has the time, along with a cashier and another baker in back who I’ve rarely seen but who I’m sure is there quite a lot like the other two women. They are always friendly and accommodating.

The only downside to this establishment is that if you’re looking to dine in somewhere, there aren’t a lot of options open to you. The place makes use of its interior room but even doing so, there is only room for about 10-12 people maximum, less if you don’t want to sit across one of the small tables from a stranger. There are a couple of seating options available outside as well, but those are dependent mostly on weather.

For breakfast, one can get a variety of regular menu items Katie offers, including a loaded breakfast sandwich (which I always get) that comes on an english muffin with a scrambled egg patty, mushrooms, sizzling sausage, caramelized onions (though I get it without onions, myself), melted cheese and a touch of mustard. The price isn’t bad, either. The breakfast sandwich is only around $6.00 if I remember correctly, making it on level with big chains like McDonald’s but with extremely superior ingredients.

However, for this review, I went in to grab a quick bite to eat for take out lunch. When I arrived, the place wasn’t super-packed and I was waited on right away. The cashier put my purchase through with no problem – a Cuban Sandwich ($7.00) and two Strawberry-Cheese Danishes (Forgive me for not remembering the exact price, but they were around $1.50 or $2.00 each). I sat down on one of the comfortable seats near the window and waited only around 5-10 minutes for my food to be brought out by Katie herself, smiling as she handed me the foil-wrapped sandwich that was good and hot through its wrappings. I bid the women adieu and left to enjoy my sandwich.

The Cuban Sandwich came on a delicious roll that held up its integrity throughout the meal. There were tangy pickles, melty cheese and very delicious and generous strips of real cut pork. The mustard had a zip to it, but did not overwhelm the taste buds. I finished with my favorite thing at Katie Made, which are the Strawberry Cheese Danishes (I reluctantly gave one to my girlfriend). The pastry was light and fluffy with enough backbone to chew and to give it a pleasing texture. The insides were creamy and addictively delicious, the strawberry slices bursting with flavor.

Anyway, if you find yourself in the Munjoy Hill area and want a really solid breakfast or lunch, or a nice pastry to accompany you for the day – hit up Katie Made Bakery. You can tell Katie and her entire staff put a lot of love into what they do.

JOE Rating: ★★★★

Check Out The Katie Made Bakery Web Site Here


Otto’s Pizza – Portland, Maine

Art work on take out boxes done by Ella Trout from the Breakwater School

Art work on take out boxes done by Ella Trout from the Breakwater School

Street Address: 225 Congress Street (Munjoy Hill Neighborhood)
Hours of Operation: Sun-Thu 11am-11pm, Fri-Sat 11am-12am (Note: Other Locations May Be Different)

I was first introduced to Otto’s Pizza one night after I attended a show at the Port City Music Hall. I was semi-new to the Portland city night life, and one of my friends, who was more familiar with the area, texted me and told me to try Otto’s on upper Congress since they were open later than most other places in the area. I did, and I am so glad I did.

Otto’s has one passion, and it is pizza – using a host of fresh ingredients and combinations that will leave not only your hunger satisfied, but also that of your taste buds. The price is pretty average for a pizza joint, but is also cheap compared to other establishments. One can get a slice of pizza for around $3.50 if you’re not that hungry, or a 12″ pie for $10.00 and a 16″ pie for $15.00 if you’re really famished.

I was at my girlfriend’s place on Forest Ave and her brother was visiting so I decided to pay a visit to Otto’s for a late-night pizza party and also decided to use my experience there for my first ever food review on my blog. Keep in mind – I did not have a sit-down meal while there, aside from a slice I enjoyed while waiting for my pies to be baked in the oven. My review, this time, is for the take out version.

When I arrived, the lobby was semi-packed with folks waiting for their food, and all of them seemed in good spirits. Two men and a young boy waited for one of the employees to be finished with her shift at the counter and two women waited separately for their own food.

“Hi,” smiled the girl at the counter. “What can we make for you? Are you here to get a slice or some pies?”

“Actually,” I said. “I’m going to be getting two pies. The 16″ Chicken and Basil ($19) as well as a 16″ White Bean, Sausage, Herb and Chili Flake ($21).”

She rang me up for my purchase and then I also added a slice of Pepperoni pizza ($3.50) to munch on while I waited. She finished ringing up the order promptly and then warmed the slice for me and placed it on a paper plate to hand to me. “Here you go,” she said.

I took the slice and enjoyed it at a table near the wall. The waiting area is a bit drafty in cold weather and so I was glad I had my coat on. The main dining room is a much more suitable place to enjoy your meal if you’re not just stopping in for a slice, but I was only getting take out this time. The pepperoni was crispy and not too greasy. The cheese was, as usual, very springy, delicious and not too melty. The dough was just the balance needed between really crispy and really soft. I took my time enjoying the slice and after around fifteen or twenty minutes, my pizzas were finished being made.

When I arrived at my girlfriend’s place, she and her brother were happy to see me with the pies and they dived in right away. We all tried one of each slice to start. The White Bean, Sausage, Herb and Chili Flake had virtually no grease and had just the right amount of spicy finish with the mild sausage and the chili flakes to mesh really well with the creamy white sauce (you can choose red or white sauce for this particular pizza) and the delicious blend of herbs and cheese. The Chicken and Basil was delicious, with generous dobs of what seemed to be a sort of pomodoro sauce on top of the cheese along with a happy amount of fresh strips of basil. The chicken seemed to have been marinated and had a great flavor that could stand on its own. However, because the sauce is loaded with lots of olive oil and the cheese has a bit of grease, the crust’s integrity in the middle of the pie didn’t hold up as well as the White Bean’s. This didn’t detract in much of a negative way to the eating experience, however, because the flavor was so spot-on.

I’ve long been a fan of Otto’s up to this point and this visit ensured that I would definitely be back. For those of you not near Munjoy Hill, there are other locations as well in Maine and even in Massachusetts (their Cambridge/Brookline location is especially nice as it’s right near Harvard).

If you’re craving pizza and you want to enjoy a nice, solid experience – check them out.

JOE Rating: ★★★★★

Check Out Otto’s Website Here

Check Out Otto’s Website For This Location Here

Check Out Otto’s WordPress Blog Here