“We all live in a…” – The Beatles

When I asked my friend (and San Francisco host for the week) where to get a sandwich, he claimed without hesitation that ‘Yellow Submarine,’ in the Inner Sunset, was not only the best sub he’d had in San Francisco, but the best sub he’d ever had period.

Yellow submarine 2

His only other sub-par recommendation came on Art’s Cafe, but since I knew that this was based on his being partial to a good value and that he held on to the same desperate hope as I did that we may finally have found a Yankee Doodle competitor, I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

By about 11:00am, I had to decide whether to go for breakfast or lunch on my last full day of exploring SF, and given that I really only wanted out of breakfast was steak and eggs, I figured I could go without the eggs.

That decision made my sandwich choice for me, steak and cheese; however, I still liked their very limited menu(only basic sandwiches). Interestingly, for the latter portion of my time spent living in Philadelphia, I gave up the “cheese,” part of the Philly-famous cheesesteaks. However, whenever I would find myself at one of the two classics in the city of Brotherly Love (Pats or Geno’s) or my favorite, Jims on South Street (usually when hosting friends or family), I’d still grab a plain steak. However, I’ve recently gone back to adding some provolone back into my sandwich topping arsenal. Therefore, at the Yellow Submarine, I ordered what would be known as “One provolone wit’ “(meaning a steak and provolone sandwich topped with onions) back east.

After applying a healthy dose of ketchup, I took my first bite and couldn’t have been happier with my friend’s recommendation or my order choice. The steak was nicely shaved (not finely chopped like they do at Jim’s, but still great), the onions well-cooked, and the bread perfectly grilled.



My only slight improvement might be to cook the cheese a little longer. While it was warm, it didn’t quite melt to my liking. Like I said, I haven’t had a true Philly Cheesesteak in quite some time, but I’d be willing to bet that if these two were stacked up, they’d go down to the wire.

Back in Cambridge, my new favorite sub place has become Al’s (I frequent the Harvard Square location, but they’ve got a few throughout the city). When there, I mostly go for the award-winning chicken or tuna salad subs, served on Al’s unnecessarily large, but delicious, sub rolls. I’ve had a steak sub there once and it was very similar to the one from the Yellow Submarine. I’d have to call it a 50/50 toss up, perhaps with the sandwich meat and toppings going to Al’s and the bread going to YS, but all in all a great contest.

Even though the menu was limited, there were plenty of others I’d like to try and it will certainly make it on to my list for a repeat visit on my next trip back there (which will hopefully be sooner rather than later…)



#3 Always try to find the Silver Linings

Silver Linings

I knew it had something to do with football, featured Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper, and Jennifer Lawrence, and had received some rave reviews and even a few awards early in the season (pre-oscars). Other than that, I didn’t know much.

I certainly didn’t know that the film’s opening scenes would take place in a Baltimore psychiatric facility. Given  work I had done both while volunteering in college at a state run hospital just outside of Philadelphia (where the rest of the movie takes place) and also as a full-time research coordinator in one of the most expensive private psychiatric treatment centers in the country, just outside of Boston, I might have reconsidered before choosing this as thing to see on a second date. However, it was her suggestion originally, and given my love for movies, I usually don’t turn down the opportunity to incorporate them into a date, especially when I don’t even have to suggest it.

However, in the end, the film lived up to expectations and didn’t confirm my initial fears that the film choice would drag down the evening, given what I know of the bleak and dreary settings of some psychiatric hospitals and their capacity to dampen moods.

Instead, David Russell’s adaptation of Matthew Quick’s novel (of the same name) uses the theme of mental illness to contrast and compare the two main characters (Bradley Cooper and Lawrence) as the attempt to both “out-crazy” one another, yet also maintain the mental stability high ground, in their developing friendship. Moreso, the theme of mental illness or “craziness,” appears to fascinate many of the so-called “sane” characters in the film, including a relentless student who repeatedly tries to interview and even catch on film some of the “bi-polar episodes,” and the co-workers of Cooper’s older brother, a well-meaning but overshadowing successful  lawyer, who struggles to relate to his younger brother without bringing up areas in which he has “out-performed” him in some way or another.

In a way, I think Quick (though I haven’t yet read the book), but certainly Russell is attempting to point out the sometimes less than obvious, but certainly present mild “mental illnesses,” or at least psychiatric symptomatology that almost everyone experiences every so often, some more often than others. In Silver Linings, there’s Cooper’s father, played by De Niro, an aging bookie, who we learn has been permanently banned from the Eagles Stadium because of his violent outbursts and fights. Then, while he watches the games at home (not by choice) he engages in his “superstitions,” that border on obsessive-compulsive and even delusional when he believes (mistakenly as she later points out) that Cooper’s developing relationship with Lawrence has somehow thrown off the Eagles good luck. Then there is Cooper’s best friend Ronnie (played by John Ortiz), who struggles to deal with the increasing stress caused by a chaotic marriage, a newborn child, and increasing financial responsibilities, all of which he believes he can successfully cope with by going into his garage, listening to Metallica, and “breaking shit.”

Whether these other characters would actually meet any diagnostically significant criteria, at least as defined by the DSM or some other standard accepted within psychiatry, I don’t know. However, I think the film does a really nice job of pointing out that the individuals who have spent time in facilities, whether state-run or private, whether on a recommendation from friends, loved ones, or a doctor or by the mandate of a court system really aren’t that different from the rest of us when you can look past the the stigma and labels society likes to throw at them.

Regardless of how you feel about the social commentary on mental illness, this turned out to be a fine “date movie,” that handles some serious topics very nicely with both humor and grace.