Saturday, December 28, 2013

My most anticipated movies of 2014

So 2015 is shaping up to be what looks like a good year at the movies. The Avengers 2 in May 2015, Batman vs. Superman in July 2015, and Star Wars VII in December 2015. That’s not counting James Bond #24 and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 in November, Fantastic Four in June, Ant-Man in July or the next Bourne Identity movie in August.

Let’s not look past 2014 though. There are several 2014 movies with potential to be awesome too. There are some movies that can wait until they are available on Redbox. These don't appear to be Redbox movies.

I better start saving my money because it looks like I'll be making a few trips to the movie theater this year:

8. Hercules: the Thracian Wars
Release Date: July 25

Don't get this movie confused with Hercules: The Legend Begins (release date TBA). The Thracian Wars is the one starring The Rock as Hercules. There hasn't been much artwork released yet. No trailers to build excitement either.

Let's be serious though: the movie stars The Rock. Even the worst of Rock's movies (The Rundown and Walking Tall) were pretty good. Wait -- there was Doom. I haven't watched that one, but I heard it was terrible.

After G.I. Joe 2, Fast 6 and the slew of other movies The Rock was in this year, he seems to be at the top of his game, so I'm expecting something good out of Hercules.

Charlotte Cupcakes - Carswell Bakery

There’s one more to review before I’m wrapped up with my year-long search for Charlotte’s best cupcake. It was back to Rock Hill to try out one more bakery: Carswell Bakery.

It's a small shop located in a strip mall on Mt. Gallant Road.

It looked like there may have been some remodeling going on when I went inside. There was a small display case with a variety of cookies available. There was also a table with 6-pack cupcakes.

The shop had your three standard cupcake flavors: chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. I wouldn't have gotten any if they only came in 6-packs, but thankfully they were available as singles too. I passed on the chocolate, but bought a strawberry and a vanilla.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Charlotte Cupcakes - Southern Cake Queen

All year I’ve been trying to track down Southern Cake Queen. Since there’s no actual location, it’s hard to track them down. There is a food truck and they update their Twitter account with whatever location they'll be at, but whenever they are out serving cupcakes I seem to be busy or on the other side of the city.

Thankfully I was at Charlotte Douglas waiting for a flight recently. See, Southern Cake Queen doesn't have an official shop in Charlotte, but their cupcakes are sold at Phipps Bistro's location at The Charlotte-Douglas Airport in Concourse A.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cupcake

There weren't an entire slew of flavors to choose from, but there didn't need to be. If you eat Southern Cake Queen's Peanut Butter cupcake, you don't need much else. It had buttercream frosting on top and a Reese's chocolate as well.

The cupcake was soft and had a great, fresh Peanut Butter taste. The woman working the counter did offer to warm the cupcake up in the microwave since it was kept in a cooler. I took her up on that offer and I think it made the cupcake that much better.

It didn't taste like it'd been kept in the cooler all day though. It tasted like it just came out of the oven. If a cupcake ever melted in your mouth, it was this one.

The chocolate was a nice accent to the cupcake. Sometimes the additional chocolate flavor can ruin a good peanut butter cupcake, but it didn't in this case.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The best super hero movie of 2013

At the end of 2012 I blogged about the 6 movies I was most excited to see in 2013.

G.I Joe: Retaliation, Man of Steel, The Wolverine, Thor, Iron Man 3 and Star Trek: Into Darkness all made the cut.

I saw all of those movies several times this year -- G.I. Joe once in the theatre and twice on DVD, Star Trek in the theatre three times and once on DVD, Iron Man in the theatre twice, The Wolverine in the theatre twice and Thor in the theatre twice.

After carefully going over all of the evidence, I have to say that Star Trek kicked the ass of all others. It was definitely the best of the bunch.

Thor 2 comes in next -- being almost as good. Jane slapping Thor wasn't needed, despite the fact that Natalie Portman said it was satisfying. She told E! Online: "I found it very satisfying. I think it’s behalf of all my girlfriends who had guys that didn’t call them back or disappeared or just fell off the face of the earth."

Man of Steel came in next. Although it had some problems (click to read about them...though it may make you like the movie less). Still, it was a good movie. It can only get better from there, especially if the sequel has Batman and Wonder Woman involved and leads to a Justice League movie.

Iron Man 3 was good for a third movie in the trilogy, but Guy Pearce and the whole concept of being able to breathe fire brought it down.

The Wolverine and G.I. Joe 2 were both good. G.I. Joe was better than I thought it would have been.

The action scenes (especially the sword fight on the side of the mountain) were awesome!

The Wolverine was worse than I thought it would have been. The sequence on top of the train was great, but the scene at the end with the ninjas shooting arrows? I thought it could have been much more powerful. Add some music to that sucker to make it powerful!

Related Content:
Movies to watch out for in 2013
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Beyonce: BEYONCÉ - reviewed.

If you've talked to someone at work this week, watched a news program or spent any amount of time on the Internet, then you know that Beyonce released a surprise album last week -- titled BEYONCÉ.

It was called a "visual album" because of the fact that she released 17 videos along with the 14 songs -- all at once on iTunes. Without any buildup or promotion at all, Beyonce's album went to number one. Talk about a marketing plan that worked to perfection!

While I've never been the biggest fan of Beyonce (I liked a few of her Destiny's Child songs and enjoyed listening to "Crazy In Love," but I wouldn't call myself a fan), I was impressed with the way she released the album and thought I'd check it out.

I've seen a lot of people tweeting about it being flawless and mentioning that Beyonce showed a lot of growth on this album. After listening to it, I can't say I agree. More often than not, the album is boring, plain and has very few moments where Beyonce actually sings.

Rhythm and blues isn't a genre I always enjoy, but when done right, it can be good. While the album sales are obviously in Beyonce's favor, she didn't impress this reviewer. If you're looking for a review full of praise, you might want to skip this one.

Pretty Hurts

The message of this song is very positive, talking about the pressures to look a certain way:

"Blonder hair, flat chest
TV says, "Bigger is better."
South beach, sugar free
Vogue says, "Thinner is better."

While the lyrics are impressive and thought-provoking, the song itself doesn't leave much of an impression.

Charlotte Cupcakes – Pat-a-Cakes Bakery

As the search for Charlotte's best cupcake winds down, it's time to take a look at another candidate. This time I went to Pat-A-Cakes Bakery in Rock Hill, South Carolina. It's a nice little bakery that has Tuesday price specials, so make sure to stop by on a Tuesday.

Samoan Cupcake

I typically don’t like coconut, so this cupcake had me a little nervous. For whatever reason I do like Samoas though. I figured I’d give this cupcake a shot, but I didn’t have very high expectations for it. There was a giant glob of coconut on top.

The woman who helped me told me it tasted like the cookie. I was skeptical, but without good reason. She was right. This Samoa cupcake does taste like the Samoa cookie.

This giant glob of coconut doesn’t make the cupcake taste like your typical coconut-covered baked good.

The caramel they mixed with it helped create an authentic Samoa taste. That cupcake didn't last too long.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmastown USA - experienced.

McAdenville's annual Christmastown USA is up and running again this year. The Charlotte area Christmas light extravaganza started Monday and is worth checking out, especially if you haven't seen it before.

I went last year for the first time and it was a very cool experience.

I drove in heading west on I-85 to exit 22. That was extremely crowded, so I continued on I-85 to exit 21. I took Cox Road to Franklin Blvd/Andrew Jackson Highway/74 and then took the back way in. That seemed to work much better.

There weren't any designated parking spots that I found. It's more of a 'take what you can get' kind of thing. If you find a spot on a residential side road, take it.

Town officials do remind visitors not to block railroad crossings or prevent the flow of traffic though.

There isn't necessarily a route people follow. You basically follow the lights. Follow the cars and follow the lights.

Even More Personalized Plates

A few more personalized license plates that have caught my eye...

Can you guess what this person's favorite teams are? Perhaps the Tampa Bay Rays and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

This person has to be a Gilligan's Island fan. Either that or they like Rihanna.

What a snitch! Jes did what though?

You've heard of PlayStation4 and XboxOne. Now you've heard of Granny-4.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Some 'Should Be' Duets

Pigs have flown. The world has ended. Peace at last! Lady Gaga and Christina Aguilera teamed up on the season finale of The Voice to perform Gaga's single "Do What U Want."

After the seemingly back-and-forth war that was going on between them for years, it was kind of surprising to see them partner up. Then again, Gaga said earlier this year that she's a big fan of Christina.

It seems Gaga wasn't miffed over Aguilera's 2008 comments in the LA Times.

The partnership may have been a surprise, but it was also very fitting. For two women who have similar vocal styles, outlandish (at times) looks, and similar sounding songs, it seemed appropriate that they collaborate for a performance. It was one of those 'it's never gonna' happen' combinations that actually ended up happening and worked really well.

There have been several really good duets this year actually, whether it's a one-time-only kind of duet or one that is forever cemented in digital history on iTunes.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Wonder Woman FINALLY gets an actress

Boy, I go on vacation for a week and D.C. comes out with some hefty news: there's finally a Wonder Woman.

I remember way back to the early 2000's when Chyna, Lucy Lawless and Sandra Bullock were contenders for a potential Wonder Woman movie. 13 years later, Wonder Woman is coming to the big screen.

Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman in the Batman vs. Superman/Man of Steel 2 movie that is scheduled for a July 2015 release.

First off, I had no idea Wonder Woman was going to be included in that movie. Second, before looking at her IMDB page, I had no idea who Gal Gadot was.

She seems like a good choice though.

She's been in a couple of Fast and the Furious movies, so she probably won't have much difficulty making an action movie.

She looks the part well enough, though I think Jaimie Alexander (of Thor fame) would probably have been a better choice. Nonetheless, it's awesome that D.C. is finally making some headway.

D.C. has been left in the dust when it comes to live action super hero movies. Starting with Iron Man back in 2008, Marvel has taken the show.

The Dark Knight trilogy was amazing -- don't get me wrong -- but it's Batman vs. the entire Marvel franchise. Batman can't fend off The Avengers alone.

Thankfully D.C. has decided to kick things into gear, seemingly moving forward with an eventual Justice League movie and presumably a separate movie for Wonder Woman too.

Better late than never.

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Red 2 - reviewed.

Disney's 'to do' list: a live action Jafar movie

Disney is capitalizing on the large set of characters that have become icons through their various projects over the last 50 years.

Maleficent, featuring Angelina Jolie in the title role, is set to be released next year on May 30.

Disney describes the movie as "the untold story" of "a beautiful, pure-hearted young woman" who has "an idyllic life growing up in the peaceable forest kingdom" until an evil army invades the land.

"Maleficent rises to be the land’s fiercest protector, but she ultimately suffers a ruthless betrayal—an act that begins to turn her pure heart to stone. Bent on revenge, Maleficent faces an epic battle with the invading king’s successor and, as a result, places a curse upon his newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Maleficent realizes that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom—and perhaps to Maleficent’s true happiness as well."

Ever since I read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, I've enjoyed projects that feature the villain's side of the story.

Friday, December 13, 2013

13 Body Swap Movies

In honor of Friday the 13th, I figured we'd count down some of the best body switch movies.

There's still time left in the day for this to happen to you, so don't wish on any shooting stars, be careful if you're making a birthday wish, don't throw coins (or peeing, for that matter) into any fountains and avoid any kind of voodoo magic men. You may also want to avoid Aztec statues, necklaces and magic dust.

Otherwise you may end up like some of the people on this list:

13. The Change-Up

Number 13 is the most recent body swap movie. Released in 2011, the movie is about two men who switch bodies after being struck by lightning while peeing into a fountain. The result? They swap bodies. Dave (Jason Bateman) is stuck in Mitch's body. Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) is stuck in Dave's body.

At the beginning of the movie the two are envious of each other's lifestyles. By the end of the movie they've grown as human beings and appreciate where they are at in life.

12. 18 Again

Made in 1988, this comedy stars George Burns as a grandfather and Charlie Schlatter as his grandson.

Jack Watson (Burns) is a millionaire about to turn 81. David (Schlatter) is about to turn 18. A traffic accident results in their souls swapping and Jack finds himself living the life of an 18-year-old again. The plot had been used before and has been used since.

Just like in the other movies, their lives are straightened out thanks to the body swap.

Watch the entire movie on YouTube

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Charlotte Cupcakes - Big View Diner

I went to Big View Diner after reading something online that mentioned them having a pretty impressive dessert section.

Sure enough, they did have a nice collection of desserts.

Problem is: they only have one cupcake. It's an awesome looking chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting on top and chocolate candy baked inside. It was all or nothing with this cupcake though. One chance for Big View Diner to make an impression.

Chocolate Cupcake

I got the chocolate cupcake, brought it home and ate it later that night.

It was amazing! Seriously, it was probably the best chocolate cupcake I've had all year long.

The frosting was incredible rich and creamy. The cupcake was moist and chocolatey. The chocolate kisses that were baked inside the cupcake in melted form were like a delicious finishing touch on an already superb cupcake.

I think the thing that really stood out and made this cupcake so good was the mixture of chocolate flavors. You had it in cake form, frosting form and candy form -- all in one cupcake!

I only got one cupcake because I figured 'Why get two when there's just one flavor?' That was a mistake I shouldn't have made. I'll have to make a trip back to South Charlotte and get another cupcake soon.