This morning I heroically got out of bed and dragged myself to work on a dreary, drizzly day after a short night's sleep caused by sinus trouble. After work, I decided I deserved a reward for my heroism. So I ate out, then shopped till I dropped.
First thing after getting out of work, I stopped at the Emperor's Palace restaurant in Chesterfield, MO. My visit confirmed my belief that it is one of the best Asian-style buffet restaurants around. If I tried to describe how huge this buffet is, you wouldn't believe me. It actually has separate areas for Japanese, Vietnamese, Mongolian, Chinese, and general-audience food. It's one of those buffets where you keep thinking you're almost at the end of it, but then you turn a corner and there's lots more ahead. Not if you were the biggest glutton in greater St. Louis could you actually try a little of everything on this menu. With a glass of iced tea, my check came in under $10. Not a bad deal, I thought.
The highlights of my repast were spicy chicken and shrimp, a shark-fin dumpling (I wonder if it really has shark fin in it?), and a soft, sweet doughnut with chicken in the center. There were lots of other things for me to try, and still more things for me to look at wonderingly. I had a slab of yummy chocolate torte for dessert, and somehow restrained myself from going back for a third plateful of food.
If you eat at the Emperor's Palace, bring your extra tank and save room for the chocolate fondue fountain. Then enjoy a different kind of fountain, splashing over fake rocks and into an indoor koi pond near your table. It's a cool place, in spite of the heat thrown off by the huge bronze braziers outside the front door, and it has plenty of seating for a large group. But believe me, no matter how adventurous the palates of your party may be (or not), they'll find plenty of the kind of food they like at Emperor's Palace, from dishes sizzling with distinctive flavor to safe, bland staples of the middle-American diet--and so many things in between that you'll be continually surprised.
After dinner, I dropped by the nearby World Market and invested in a few of my favorite imported treats, including a couple of bags containing multiple, single-serving-size packets of Asian-style cracker mix. Then I made a Sam's Club stop, where I somehow managed to keep my haul within the dimensions of my car's small trunk. And lastly, I visited the Best Buy a few doors down, where I purchased exactly one DVD: Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning, a spoof of "Star Trek vs. Babylon 5" filmed in Finnish with English subtitles.
I watched Star Wreck this evening. It was much less cheesy than one might expect of a low-budget, foreign-language parody, especially when it's the sixth film in a series of made-for-the-web fan flicks. Unlike the five earlier Star Wrecks, this one was a full-length feature, and it was shot in a higher resolution. Most of it was apparently shot in front of blue screens, so virtually every scene on board a spaceship or space station was a special-effects shot. And the special effects really weren't bad. The ships, the station, the space battles, all looked similar in quality to the TV series being spoofed.
More importantly, it was funny. Sure, to appreciate the script I had to rely on subtitles. And yes, the many scenes bore witness to the director's and the cast's lack of experience. On the other hand, the actors were well suited to their parts and played them with gusto. And some of the jokes worked even without being translated. For instance, the android with the silvery skin is named "Info," and the Plingon (sic) with the ridged forehead is called "Dwarf." I can't repeat the name of the Russian officer based on Star Trek's Chekov, but the fact that he was played by the same actor who also spoofed B5's Bester was ingeniously appropriate. A couple of the actors eerily resembled the originals of their characters. And in spite of their limits as actors and filmmakers, they collectively showed a flair for comedy. Captain Pirk's reaction when a barrage of "light balls" turns out to be "light beers" was hilarious. Security Chief Garrybrandy's lunge toward the button to stop "Babel 13" from exploding was splendidly silly.
I only wish the "special features" had shown the same spirit of fun. I could not believe how boring they were. I'm not saying this just because it takes longer to say something in Finnish than to read the subtitles in English. The "inside out" making-of documentary went on and on and on, going into way too much detail and leaving way too little to the imagination. And the featurette on the production team's latest venture, the upcoming movie Iron Sky, was all but maddeningly tedious. The entire writing team took it in turns to mouth banal generalities about their new project with so little concern for what a viewer would want to know that, after half an hour, I still had no idea what Iron Sky is about. I finally gave up and wikied it. I'm not going to give it away, because based on what I saw tonight, I feel hopeful that these Finns will prove better at telling the story than talking about it. Based on that assumption, I wouldn't want to spoil it for you.