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A Date With Danny & Dan

Off Campus | October 26, 2009

Just a quick stroll from campus is Porter Square, famous for Lesley University, Bally Total Fitness, the perennially top-rated homeless-hangout-T-station, and some great gustatory gems. It was an arduous and stomach-grumbling feat to walk down Mass Ave and pass all of the Thai, Indian, and Himalayan restaurants; tonight, though, we were not in the mood for Eastern food. Just past Lesley University on Mass Ave is Addis, an Ethiopian restaurant named for the country’s capital city.

Warning: those hard of sight should bring a flashlight. The heavily dimmed lighting created a romantic and comfortable atmosphere, but made for a tough time reading the menu. However, the cozy ambiance was further emphasized by the striking colors of the African art that adorned the walls. The seating arrangement at each table was perfect for an intimate dinner for two, a nice family dinner, or even a party of four or five friends. With that being said, we should explain why Addis would probably make for an awkward first or even second date (for the more conservative of folk). First of all, diners eat at mesabs instead of Western-style tables. Woven from straw, these mesabs look like a conga drum with a hollow bowl carved out on top. All of the ordered entrées are served on a single piece of injera, Ethiopian spongy bread, which is spread over the top of the mesab. The nature of Ethiopian cuisine, illustrated by the mesab, is communal and personal. Instead of a fork and knife, your utensil is a piece of the spongy and slightly sour injera. Each bite is taken by clutching a piece of meat or vegetables with a chunk of the bread. So, if you are reluctant to eat with your “hands,” or you do not feel uncomfortable sharing a meal with another person, then Addis probably isn’t the place for you.

We ordered five entrees, one from each section of the menu. Our chicken dish, Doro Wot, consisted of shredded chicken marinated in a red pepper sauce, and was adorned with onions, garlic, and ginger root. The thick sauce in the dish was akin to the consistency of a curry, but the flavor fell short of the pungency of a stereotypical South Asian dish. Each entrée we ordered disappointingly did not live up to its promising arsenal of ingredients. The lamb, Yebeg Wot, and the beef, Lega-Tibs, had extremely similar flavors and consistencies. Since the entrées were served together on the main piece of injera, the dishes blended together and could not be differentiated from their counterparts. We were also served a complimentary lentil dish that was bland and mushy. The only redeeming part of the meal was the fish, Yasa Wot. The chunks of white fish were cooked in an oily red pepper sauce with onions and garlic. The distinct fishy flavor allowed the Yasa Wot to escape from the confines of the weak sauce. Even so, the fish was the most polarizing dish, since fishiness is an exceptionally acquired taste.

The worst part of the meal? Sitting through a movie afterwards knowing that you are going to get the runs on the walk back from the theater.

In the wake of a dining experience that left our stomachs anything but settled, little relief could be found in any of the 87 minutes of Ruben Fleischer’s Zombieland. Featuring Zombie carnage, cannibalism, quirky characters, and a contrived love story, all aspects of the film are ostensibly aimed to induce vomiting.

The film begins with protagonist Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg of Adventureland and The Squid and the Whale) explaining the tenants of survival in a post-apocalyptic, zombie-ridden world. It is immediately apparent that this main character is a product of the always mystifying popularity of the ever-so charming-awkward-teen actor craze. Whether it’s his irritable bowel syndrome, his fear of clowns, or his penchant for efficient and effective zombie killing, every one of Columbus’ idiosyncrasies appear to have been manufactured for The Cera himself, who for some reason could not be convinced to star in another movie that involved Emma Stone as a central love interest. While it is not as though the character is entirely exhausted, too often he had the ability to annoy more than amuse.

Accompanying Columbus are Tallahassee, Wichita, and Little Rock: the first a man (Woody Harrelson) sustained by his lust for zombie killing; the latter, two sisters (Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin) sustained by their skill in con artistry. Among these, none have the ability to truly entertain as does Tallahassee during many a prolonged zombie slaying scene. It is in these scenes that the film is able to redeem itself to a large degree for any of the discomfort or stale jokes of the film’s other cast members. If this film is to be truly enjoyed, it is during these wonderfully indulgent slow motion scenes of zombie massacre; in many ways the film’s biggest star is the high-speed camera.

Though little can be said of the movie’s quality as one of the growing number of rom zom coms (romantic zombie comedies), it should be praised for its unique portrayal of zombie-human interaction. No movie has made zombies seem more benign, or strangely fun. Rather than using the undead as a means of creating suspense or terror, Zombieland villains are more like playthings – outlets of releasing frustration or anger in the most visceral and gratifying of ways. Say what you will of the movie as a whole, few will leave the theater without something more than a fleeting desire to spend a day in the shoes of Tallahassee. Regretfully, when such excitement is set against awkward love scenes that mirror too closely your own sorry excuse for dinner and a movie, it can turn, like a date gone wrong, into a bad stomachache and bundle of disappointment.