Monthly Archives: March 2008

Ten Thousand Waves, Santa Fe

Lest you think all we did was gorge ourselves on green chiles, Christine and I did find time one night to visit one of the coolest spots in Santa Fe…the Ten Thousand Waves spa and resort. A Japanese spa with communal, private, premium private and super premium private baths and an array of fancy, awesome-smelling spa services, this place rocked!
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Ten Thousand Waves, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)
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And getting there is half the fun. Driving through the winding, snow-capped mountains to the spa is an experience in itself…and then once you get there, wow…you feel like you’re in fuedal Japan or something. The entire walkway to the main spa — which is a bit steep in parts, so leave time if you need to take it slow — is lined with delicate Japanese lanterns that give the snowy path a dreamlike quality. Really beautiful.

Reaching the main spa, you check in and are each given a warm cotton kimono and some f-ing amazing cucumber water and are shown to the locker room. Showering off the impurities of the outside world with some of the best smelling hippie soap and shampoo I’ve ever encountered — seriously, it smelled so good, I kinda wanted to eat it — you dump your clothes in your locker, wrap yourself in that snuggly kimono and make your way to the baths for a soak.

The door on our Kabuta private bath! (Feb. 2008)
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The view from our private bath! (Feb. 2008)
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We reserved a private bath (a steal at $25 per person for an hour!) called Kabuta, which means “Piglet” in Japanese. I later learned that the reason for the name was that when the spa was built in 1981, the neighbor next door was so upset at the prospect of a spa in his midst that he built a pigpen six feet from this bath and stocked it with a dozen baby pigs. Ha!

The Kabuta name remains, but luckily for us, the piglets are long gone. All you see from the bath now is an amazing view of the snow-covered hillside and the stars above. This place was gorgeous…we could have stayed all night.

When your hour is up, a soothing gong sounds over the speaker near the tub and a dreamy, disembodied voice tells you that you have five minutes remaining. That’s right…a soothing gong! There’s no rude-ass knocking on your door to shoo you out at this joint.

Totally relaxed at Ten Thousand Waves! (Feb. 2008)
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So, with a light snow beginning to fall in the distance, we reluctantly wrapped ourselves up in our kimonos and made our way back down the path to the showers. Driving home, totally relaxed and smelling of yummy mint and lavender, we hit the bed hard and slept like babies till morning…

Domo arigato, Ten Thousand Waves. Domo arigato mucho!

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The French Pastry Shop, Santa Fe

OK, I know it sounds like all we did in Santa Fe was eat and that’s probably because, well, aside from drinking — gotta love that high altitude buzz! — that is all we did. Literally.

The French Pastry Shop, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

At one point Christine and I were plotting out our day and realized that everything we wanted to do involved food. Of course, we eventually found plenty of other some awesome things to do and see, but, wow, with all that good food they got cooking, why not eat your way through Santa Fe?

And a great place to start your culinary day off right is at the rocking French Pastry Shop located inside the historic La Fonda Hotel downtown. Now, I should mention that my first visit here — yes, I went just about everywhere more than once…but, hey, I was in town for six weeks, what do you expect? — with Ginger was not that great.

Inside The French Pastry Shop, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

I ordered a dry-ass crepe with ham and gruyere cheese that was way overpriced and, like I said, dry as, well…ass. Not my favorite breakfast. But when Christine and I went again a week later, things were much more to my liking.

To start with, they have no menus, so you have to stare at this chalk board hanging up by the register and pick out what you like then sit down and order. I didn’t do this the first time and simply ordered what the skinny waitress suggested…not a wise move at this place, as what I got was, no offense, skinny waitress food.

Another view of The French Pastry Shop, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

So this time, I studied that menu board HARD and, man alive, what a difference! Christine and I shared the tasty looking quiche-type deal with ham, cheese and spinach and wow…just wow. I think the picture below says it all.

For “desert” we ordered a fresh blueberry and raspberry crepe with whipped cream and here again, we ordered correctly. I kind of wanted to marry that thing…you know, if I wasn’t already married.

But the topper was a cold coffee drink made with two shots of espresso poured over homemade vanilla ice cream and lots of ice. I am not kidding…that just might have been the best cold coffee drink I ever consumed…and this from a former Peet’s barista!

Tasty breakfast quiche @ The French Pastry Shop, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

All I can say is thanks again to “Santa Fe Sarah” for insisting that Christine try The French Pastry Shop when she came out, because had she not, I would not have gone back. Muchas gracias, Sarah…you were right, I was wrong.

Oh yeah, and one last thing, The French Pastry is a strictly cash-only enterprise, so bring some green, and don’t forget to study that chalk menu board up front, HARD. You won’t regret it…

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Cafe Pasqual’s & The Shed

While we tried tons of super cool restaurants in Santa Fe, these two were, hands down, our favorites of the bunch. And, trust me, with the caliber of kick-ass food being what it is in Santa Fe, that is really saying something.

Cafe Pasqual’s, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

Probably best known for their spectacular mole sauce, Cafe Pasqual’s has been one of the premiere destinations for gourmet Old Mexican and New Mexican dishes alike for the past 28 years. And while the prices are a bit higher than some of the other places in town and the lines are known to stretch down Don Gasper Avenue at all hours, once you’ve eaten at Cafe Pasqual’s, it all makes sense.

Ginger and I had an early lunch there one day where I sampled that legendary mole sauce on some of the finest chicken enchiladas I have ever tasted anywhere…including Mexico. The mole was dark as night, awesomely spicy and best of all, not too chocolate-y. I was in heaven…

Cafe Pasqual’s @ lunch time! (Feb. 2008)

The next time I went was with Christine for dinner and once again, the food was downright dazzling. I had some of the tastiest skewered filet mignon I’ve ever had and the bright green cilantro rice on the side was crazy good. In fact, we were so impressed with the food that we actually bought the newest of the two Cafe Pasqual Cookbooks they had for sale up front.

I should also note that I learned later from our friends James and Amy that if you ask nicely, the chef will add a fried egg on top of any of the dishes on the menu for the low, low price of $1.00. I don’t know that I necessarily needed the egg, but hey, I’ve done stranger things for a dollar…so, maybe next time!

Mole chicken enchiladas @ Cafe Pasqual’s! (Feb. 2008)

But while we both loved Cafe Pasqual’s, The Shed is the place we’ll dream about in the years to come…huge thanks to Christine’s co-worker, “Santa Fe Sarah” for recommending it to us, you rock! Located in a cool little hacienda dating to 1692, The Shed has been serving some of the finest, Spanish, Pueblo, and New Mexican food known to man since 1953.

Housed inside the thick adobe walls of the hacienda, the dining area is spread out across a series of small, brightly colored rooms linked by narrow doorways and halls adorned with some of the coolest art in town. The place actually felt more like someone’s house than a restaurant, and with little round fire places up front and an intimate, low-ceilinged feel throughout, you could have sworn you were eating in Yoda’s pad on Degobah. And yes, that is a good thing.

The Shed, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

And the food…my God. Amazing! Christine ordered the Chicken Enchilada Verde which is made with traditional New Mexican blue corn tortillas and bathed in a roasted green chile sauce that will leave you begging for more. Literally! I went back two days after she left and ordered the exact same thing…and it was even better the second time.

The other thing we really dug about The Shed was the garlic bread. Instead of chips and salsa — which you can still order separately if you like — every entree is served with this amazing, piping-hot basket of French Garlic Bread. I know it sounds kinda weird, but when you’re sopping up that spicy green chile sauce, that bread is exactly what you wanna have on hand. Whew…awesome!

And for desert, you gotta try the mocha cake. I’m not kidding, I actually woke up a couple of times craving that thing. Probably one of the best coffee-infused, chocolate mouse cakes I’ve ever had. If you like chocolate…you will die!

Anyway, like I said before, there were plenty of killer dining spots in town, but these two…wow…if you ever find yourself in Santa Fe, don’t miss them.

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Todos Santos Chocolates

OK, first off, I kinda want to sue Frommer’s for leaving this place out of their “Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque” guidebook. I lived and died by that book when I was in New Mexico — not to mention last summer when their “Nashville & Memphis” guide never left my sweaty hands — so I was stunned to find someplace as cool as Todos Santos Chocolates & Confections missing from their hallowed pages.

Todos Santos sign! (March 2008)
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Ginger and I stumbled upon Todos Santos one afternoon and returned at least one more time, but Christine and I made this joint our home away from home in Santa Fe. Seriously, we made a beeline for this place every time we went downtown…and well, that was a lot.

Located just a short walk up Palace Avenue from the main plaza, Todos Santos is nestled inside the heart of the historic Sena Plaza directly across from the legendary La Casa Sena restaurant. Never got around to trying the restaurant (like many eateries in Santa Fe, they keep kind of odd hours) but the gourmet chocolates at Todos Santos are truly out of this world.

Todos Santos chocolates in all their glory! (Feb. 2008)
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In fact, owner Hayward Simoneaux — who was spectacularly friendly and actually started to recognize Christine and I as “regulars” after a while — was named one of the 10 best artisan chocolatiers in the country by Chocolatier magazine in 2001. And man, does he deserve the title. Everything we tried in his shop was downright magical…

Our favorites were a dark chocolate mouse number with reddish fleur de sel on top and a dark chocolate morsel filled with homemade peanut butter that literally melted in your mouth. You never had peanut butter this velvety! Also good was a little dark chocolate horn filled with red chile cream…amazing!

And the chocolates are just the beginning, as the interior of the tiny shop itself looks like some crazy-cool fiesta scene from the Golden Age of Cine Mexicana. Beautifully decorated with colorful paper flowers, masks, Virgen de Guadalupe ornaments and tons of gold and silver (and even chocolate!) milagros, the place was breathtakingly cool.

Mas Todos Santos chocolates! (Feb. 2008)
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Todos Santos interior! (Feb. 2008)
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And the packaging was even cooler. Simoneaux’ bold, vivid boxes and wrapping were just as amazing as the chocolates inside…and, best of all, shockingly affordable. The funky little glass and silver box we bought below was like $10-12 and was filled with three or four of our favorite chocolates to boot. Hell, you’d pay almost twice that much for the chocolates alone in Los Angeles.

Cooler still was what happened my last day in Santa Fe. Knowing I had one more shot at securing some tasty take-home treats for Christine, I headed down to Todos Santos alone and was delighted to find the store completely changed for Easter. Everywhere you looked were bright spring colors, chocolate bunnies and a dazzling new array of handmade chocolates. Man, I wanted to buy everything…

Todos Santos packaging at its finest! (Feb. 2008)
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Luggage weight restrictions being what they are, however, I narrowed down my selections to a few individual pieces in another super cool box and two small bags of Easter goodness. One was filled with dark chocolate covered almonds lightly dusted with cocoa, and the other was filled with individually-wrapped caramels infused with chipotle pepper spice, that were even better than they sound. As Ginger would say: “Yummers!”

But perhaps my favorite thing about Todos Santos was the smell. If you could bottle that shit, it would sell like, well…chocolate-scented hotcakes. The aroma in that place was positively otherworldly, and I swear, if you stayed in there long enough (as we did on several occasions) you started to smell like chocolate…which, all things considered, is a pretty tasty way to start your day.

So, gracias, Todos Santos…your chocolates will live on in our dreams!

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Herb Peterson (1919-2008)

I’m sure you’ve all heard the news by now, but for those who haven’t…earlier this week, Herb Peterson, inventor of the McDonald’s breakfast staple, the Egg McMuffin, passed into immortality at the age of 89.

John Hayes’ AP photo of Herb Peterson (circa 1997)

A former McDonald’s executive and owner of a whopping six franchises in Santa Barbara alone, Peterson said he was inspired to create the McMuffin in 1972 by his deep, abiding love for another rocking breakfast classic, Eggs Benedict.

Ironically, I had the rare treat — I say rare, because I am hardly ever awake in time to buy one — of a McMuffin for breakfast two days ago and, as always, it was f-ing amazing! Although I’m not a huge fan of the classic McMuffin (sorry, Herb) I have been a devotee of the Sausage McMuffin with Egg (not to be confused with the dry-ass Sausage Biscuit with Egg, which I seriously loathe) for years.

And knowing that my favorite fast food breakfast sandwich is a direct descendant of Herb’s original McMuffin, I gotta give the dude props for making mornings a whole lot more tolerable for me. Seriously, whenever I am called upon to get up early, I actually think to myself: “Cool, I can get a #8 (two Sausage McMuffins, hashbrowns and coffee) at McDonald’s!”

I know, the breakfast of champions, right? Well, luckily for me…I don’t get up early very often. But next time I do, I’ll salute you, Herb Peterson. Before you came along, McDonald’s was strictly a lunch and dinner business…you revolutionized the way the world eats breakfast, dude.

Que viva la McMuffin revolution!

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Romeroville, New Mexico

I have it on high authority — unofficial family historian, my Aunt Linda — that there are none of our Romero’s in Romeroville, New Mexico…but wow, who even knew we had a whole town named after us? Not I. So, needless to say, as soon as we saw that big old exit sign, Ginger and I totally had to stop (literally on the side of freeway for the pic above!) to take some pictures.

Romeroville!
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And trust me, that didn’t take nearly long as we thought it would, as there wasn’t much to see in Romeroville. I mean, unless we missed the bustling city core completely, “my town” isn’t much more than a few rustic houses nestled up alongside the interstate just outside Las Vegas, NM.

But the proud Romero name was everywhere you looked. There was Camino Romero, Romero Court, and our name was even emblazoned on the train track warning sign thing. Crazy!

Camino Romero! What a cool street name!
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Crazier still was the fact that Ginger ordered me to stop in the middle of the train tracks so she could get that picture below.

I don’t think we were in danger in getting plowed in half — hell, who knows if the trains even still run through Romeroville these days — but yikes, what a headline that would have made! If, you know, they had a newspaper in town…

The wrong side of the tracks in Romeroville!
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Anyway, not much else to write about Romeroville. I just thought it was cool that there was a town named after my people, even if it is little more than a grungy old frontage road alongside I25.

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Richardson endorses Obama!

Wow…all this time I figured former Presidential Candidate, New Mexico Governor, Bill Richardson, for a Hillary Clinton fan. Who knew? All I can say is that after spending six-plus weeks in Richardson’s fair state…the man runs a pretty tight ship.

Our hero, Gov. Bill Richardson!
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New Mexico is clean, loaded with cops and, my missing cell phone aside, relatively crime-free. So, if this guy can keep a state as sprawling and diverse as New Mexico in order, just imagine what he could do as Vice President! Oh…wait, he hasn’t been asked yet. Give it time, baby…give it time.

I still think my boy, John Edwards, would make a kick-ass running mate, but how can you resist the idea of a Black dude and a Latino running for the highest office in the land? Man alive, what a country! So, muchas gracias for your endorsement, Gov. Bill…let’s hope it brings mucho Latino votes our way come November.

The pic above is a detail from one I took of Gov. Bill’s official state photo — which hangs in just about every building in Santa Fe — and was used today in an article by the news site Now Public. Thanks, rebel news guys!

To see my pic in all its glory, check out their story at: NowPublic.com

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Santa Muerte strikes again…

OK, I know I’m breaking with the narrative a bit here by skipping to the present day…but the reason is that my old foe, Santa Muerte — Saint Death, who plays a pivotal role in our movie — has struck again.

Santa Muerte, phone stealer!
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Earlier today, we were filming a bloody Santa Muerte induction ceremony in an abandoned apartment building in downtown Albuquerque…and guess what happened? I lost my new cell phone.

Yep, it’s gone. If it wasn’t stolen from the craft service cart on the bustling street below, then it was somehow sucked into the shadows of our dusty old set. But I’m convinced that my phone has left this plain altogether and that somewhere, Santa Muerte is texting her friends like mad.

The scene of the crime…
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My phone searching gear!
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Seriously, I looked EVERYWHERE for that thing. And if I couldn’t find my phone anywhere on set with the aid of a dust mask, a pair of latex gloves and a snow shovel…well, I don’t think that thing will ever be found…

The good news — if you can call it that — is that Christine called Sprint (thanks, honey!) and they can still transfer my service back to my old phone — oh yeah, did I mention that this phone was new? I actually bought it the day I left L.A….nice, huh? — if I do it right away. So, since I don’t exactly feel like shelling out the bucks for a new cell…old phone it is!
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Santa Muerte candles…
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Man…first my laptop, then my cell phone…I guess the big lesson here is, don’t write scripts about skeletal street Saints. And, you know, make sure you keep your cell phone in your pocket on set!

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The Avenger!

And then, seemingly as soon as our adventures in sleepy, spooky Las Vegas had begun, Ginger and I found ourselves heading south to Santa Fe for the next leg of filming.

The Snowy Avenger! (2008)

So, with a heavy heart — probably from all that after hours junk food — and a pair of pilfered Historic Plaza Hotel coffee mugs, we checked out of our hotel and headed outside to find the entire town blanketed with snow. It was beautiful!

And speaking of beautiful, I should probably take a moment to introduce you to another player in our unfolding drama here in New Mexico…and that is my fully-paid-for rental car, the brilliantly blue Dodge Avenger! Yeah!

Ginger scraping snow off our Avenger! (2008)

He might be slow on hills and have some of the worst insulation I’ve ever encountered in a “new” vehicle, but man, I love that little blue bitch. And best of all, he has a AV input jack for my iPod. So, yeah for him and yeah for us. We had rocking tunes wherever we went!

Actually make that go…as the Avenger is amazing still in my possession. It’s kind of weird how attached I’ve grown to that car. I mean, I have been driving him now for almost six weeks…so I guess it’s to be expected, but wow…I never knew rental car love could flow this deep.

The Avenger on the open highway…

Anyway, complaints aside, he’s a good little Avenger and so this post is for him…rock on, buddy! I’m gonna miss a lot of things about this trip when I’m back home next week…and you my friend, will be the thing I miss most…

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Churches, porches and loony bins…

Before moving on to some of the other exciting fare in Las Vegas, New Mexico wanted to post a few of my favorite “behind the scenes” pics from the set.

The old stone church, Las Vegas, NM (2008)
Blacked-out church, Las Vegas, NM (2008)
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As you can see, our locales ran the gamut in Las Vegas from beautiful stone churches to spooky old Victorian porches and sprawling former insane asylums. And yes, the insane asylum — which doubled as our Sheriff’s station — was just as spooky as it sounds.

The Bishop Family home, Las Vegas, NM (2008)
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While exploring the freezing cold mental hospital, Ginger and I happened upon a rusty old bathroom with a curiously large area around the tub that was no doubt witness to many an electroshock theraphy session. Yikes, that place was just asking to be “ghost-hunted”.

And to make things even scarier, the asylum was later used as a school for sick kids, so there was all these faded children’s finger paintings and stuff hanging on the walls. Seriously, it looked like that spooky old abandoned school in “Children of Men”…freaky!

The spooky old Las Vegas asylum! (2008)

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Ginger in the holding room! (2008)
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But despite the downright creepiness of many of the locations, the mood on set was usually — emphasis on the word “usually” — really light and fun. Even if it was colder than hell most of the time. Literally!

There were so many of us huddled around the propane heaters at one point that three of us melted our jackets. Myself included!

Trapped in the holding cell! (2008)
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But hey, what’s a little burnt plastic when you’re freezing your ass off in a former mental hospital?

 

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My first words…

I know I’m going back in time a bit here, but it was also here in Las Vegas, New Mexico where I wrote my first words — blogging and texting aside — since the WGA strike began in November of last year. Yeah!

Father Salinas filler dialog!

I wish I could say they were in service of something really cool like an action sequence or something, but alas, my first words written on February 13th, 2008 (the day we returned to work) amounted to little more than filler dialog for our female lead, Paz Vega, to read at a vigil for her missing daughter, Toby.

Sadly, I did not manage to get a pic of those pearls of writerly wisdom, so here instead is the second filler monolog I was called upon to write that day. These words are for “Borat” star, Ken Davitian, who plays the Del Rio, Texas parish priest, Father Salinas. Yes, the fat naked dude from “Borat” is playing a priest.

And he rocks at it too. Seriously, just look at the picture below…is this dude not convincing as a kindly, west Texas parish priest? Amen.

Ken Davitian and me @ the Catholic Church in Las Vegas, NM

Anyway, the funny part about both filler dialog assignments is that there is so much going on in the foreground of the scene — which takes place in a crowded Catholic church with tons of extras — that you’ll probably barely be able to hear either Ms. Vega or Mr. Davitian’s stirring recitations of my “beautiful” filler dialog onscreen.

Ah, the glamorous life of a Hollywood wordsmith. Ha! Either way…it was really fun just writing again, even if it was just background chatter nobody’s ever gonna hear in the actual movie…

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Charlie’s Spic & Span Cafe

As I think I mentioned in my previous post on Las Vegas, New Mexico…this town is sleepy in the extreme. And late night dining? Forget it. If Ginger and I got a hankering for some late-night grub after we wrapped we had two choices…fast food and Wal-Mart. Seriously, they don’t even have a Denny’s!

Charlie’s Spic & Span Cafe, Las Vegas, NM (2008)
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You’d think the daylight options would be better…but you’d be wrong there too. The free breakfast at the Plaza hotel’s Landmark Grill wasn’t bad, but if you wanted a truly spectacular taste of New Mexico…there was only one place in town worth hitting on a regular basis…Charlie’s Spic & Span Bakery and Cafe.

Not only do they make and sell fresh flour tortillas all day long (see picture below) but the food was my first — not to mention second and third — taste of classic New Mexican cuisine. And wow…what a way to start! Similar to Mexican food in many ways, the big difference here are the chiles. They are fresh, spicy, and best of all, they use them in and on top of everything here!

The tortilla maker @ Spic & Span!
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There are two different shades of chile here in New Mexico, Green and Red and almost anything you order (including bacon cheeseburgers, which are amazing!) is smothered with them.

Your server will always ask a color preference first, and if you’re unsure, there is always the option of ordering your food “Christmas” style. That means red AND green chiles! And let me tell ya, that is the only way to fly, baby! Delicious.

Best dinner in Las Vegas!
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The other big difference between New Mexican and Mexican cuisine is the way they kind of cover everything with a layer of beans and chiles. My sister-in-law, Laura — a stickler for segregated food groups — would probably die, but everything here just sort of runs together in a big old plate of deliciousness. Yep, it’s messy, but man, is it good!

Most places here also serve their enchiladas (mostly made from blue corn tortillas) flat rather than rolled. It’s kind of odd, but the taste is right, so, who cares? In case you were wondering, that’s a blue corn enchilada and a homemade pork tamale under all those beans and lettuce above.

Machaca plate de Dios!
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And lest you think Charlie’s Spic and Span is all about the fresh tortillas and tasty dinners, they also serve a pretty kick-ass breakfast too. Ginger had some strawberry French Toast that was melt-in-your-mouth good but the real highlight for us was my machaca plate with papitas. The potatoes were a bit ordinary, but the machaca — served with shredded tortillas, fresh salsa and eggs — rivals some of the finest Mexican chilaquiles I’ve ever had. IN MEXICO! They were amazing!

And finally, it should also be noted that Charlie’s is the one and only place in Las Vegas where you can get a real Starbucks latte. And trust me, after drinking good, but mild, craft service coffee all week long, that is really something to look forward to!

To quote my Grandpa Romero and the colorful t-shirts the staff wears: “Panza llena, corazon contento…full stomach, contented heart.” Rock on, Spic and Span!

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“Not Forgotten” Teaser Poster

While he is probably best known for his work on the Golden Globe-nominated CBS series, “The Guardian” and his more recent turn in “The Devil Wears Prada”, our lead actor, Simon Baker also has a rabid, über-geeky “fanboy” following based on his work in “Red Planet”, “The Ring II” and “George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead”.

So, because of that, our distributor recently released a pretty rocking international teaser poster for our movie to the nerd-tastically awesome magazine, Fangoria. When Ryan and I were kids we used to live for Fangoria magazine…it was totally geeky, totally gory and totally awesome! So, needless to say, I was kind of stoked that the first leak of the poster was to them…

NOT FORGOTTEN teaser poster! (2008)
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And, hey, if our international teaser poster is good enough for the horror and sci-fi fans of the world, than I figure it’s probably good enough for you guys too. So, here it is…enjoy!

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The Historic Plaza Hotel

My first week here in New Mexico, we were shooting up north in a small Western-era town called Las Vegas. The town is so cinematic that was almost like staying on a studio lot…and once the sun went down, it was just as lively. Meaning, it was deadsville…literally and figuratively.

The Historic Plaza Hotel, Las Vegas

But hands-down the coolest thing about Las Vegas was were we stayed! Our crew was split up at hotels all over town, but I had the pleasure of staying at the very cool Historic Plaza Hotel in downtown Las Vegas.

You might recognize the Plaza as the setting for several crucial scenes in the Coen Brother’s recent Best Picture Winner, “No Country For Old Men”. And though the lobby looks a tad different in real life, those creaky stairs and the spooky little shotgun hotel rooms are exactly as they appeared in the movie.

The creaky staircase at the Historic Plaza Hotel!

I had an insanely-large handicapped room on the ground floor (that’s a pic of my charming bathroom below), so I’m almost positive I wasn’t staying in any of the rooms they used in the movie, but even without Javier Bardem stalking the halls with a freaky cow gun, that hotel was creepy in the extreme!

Built in 1882, the hotel has a long, storied history in the area, hosting such old West luminaries as Kit Carson, Billy The Kid, Doc Holliday and his girlfriend “Big Nose” Kate Elder. And for just as long as it’s been around, the Plaza has also been rumored to be home to a number of very active ghosts.

My freaky bathroom @ the Plaza!

Unlike a couple of our crew members who actually switched rooms after being woken and literally pulled from their beds by “something”, I can’t say I saw anything out of the ordinary at the Plaza. I mean, there were strange sudden drafts at night and odd electrical problems with my almost all of my stuff — like, for instance, that’s where my poor Macbook, HAL 9000, died! — but overall the vibe there is just plain weird.

After one night at the hotel, at least one of our leads moved to the Comfort Inn across town. And if you’re giving up “19th Century Victorian atmosphere with 21st Century amenities” for the Comfort Inn, well, you know the Plaza is scary! I shit you not, I actually slept with the lights on until my friend Ginger arrived late in my stay and shamed me into turning them off. That’s her shadowy figure waving from the upper staircase in the picture below. Hey, Ginger!

Ginger on the stairs! Boo!

But scary or not, both Ginger and I agreed it was kind of fun staying there, especially now that “No Country” swept so many of the major categories at the Oscars. At the very least, we can say we stayed at the spooky-ass Historic Plaza Hotel in downtown Las Vegas and lived to tell about it…yeah!

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