Monday, May 2, 2016

Steamed buns at Panciuto

The other night, a group of us ate dinner at Panciuto, one of the very best local restaurants and one of the restaurants in the whole world I love the most.  One entry on recent menus had made the visit irresistible:  steamed buns with bologna.  Even imagining what chef Aaron Vandemark could do with that combination set our mouths to watering.

When the menu for that day appeared online, the steamed buns were gone.

I called the restaurant and begged Lauren, Aaron's sister, to plead our case with Aaron for steamed buns with bologna.

We went, the steamed buns were not on the menu, and so we shrugged and ordered anyway.  Sometimes, you miss dishes.  We understand that.

Everything we ordered was, as always, wonderful.  My friend, Kyle, says that eating one of Aaron's dishes is like getting a hug, and he's right.  The food was great, delicious and rich and comforting.

In the middle of the meal, a gift from Aaron unexpectedly appeared:  the steamed buns with bologna. We were as excited as little kids.

The dish surpassed our expectations.  Every bite was amazing.

Talking later with Aaron, I learned that the steamed buns with bologna had not sold well.

I was stunned.  These steamed buns were amazingly good, so good I cannot imagine any meat eater not liking them.

Maybe if Aaron were willing to go all fancy and call them "Southern-style steam buns with local meat"--which they were--they would sell better, but Aaron tells you what you're eating, and I love that.  I love the way he takes local ingredients of all sorts and elevates them beyond what you would have thought was possible.

So, if you live near here, go to Panciuto, order whatever's on offer, enjoy it--and ask after the steamed buns with bologna.  If they're on the menu, order them, and prepare to be amazed.

Do this not just for the good of all restaurant-goers in the area, but also for me, because I'm already craving those delicious steamed buns.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Tears for my mom

Today would have been my mom's 83rd birthday.  She died a bit over four years ago, on February 11, 2012.  On this blog, I wrote about her death and the week following it.  During the time from her death to her memorial service, I never cried.  At the memorial service, I choked up several times, and a few tears hit my cheeks, but I didn't cry.

I still haven't cried for my mother.

It's not that I don't miss her.  I do, terribly.  It's also not that I didn't love her.  I did, very much.  I still do.

The problem is, I don't cry.  The closest I come is to choke up, get a few tears, wipe them away, and move on.  Many, many different things can cause me to reach that point, but nothing has taken me to full crying since I was eleven.  At that time, when I was in the years of abuse, I vowed not to give anyone the satisfaction of seeing me cry, and I stopped crying.  Period.  Something that might make me cry enters me, my emotional shields automatically engage, and that's that.

I expect it might be healthier for me to cry, but at this point I don't know how.

A few weeks ago, I went to a superb Delta Rae concert at the Lincoln Theatre.  As the band hit the first few notes of "Dance In the Graveyards," I realized that I had never danced with my mom.  I immediately ached with that thought, and in the same moment my emotional shields snapped into place.

Leaning against a railing at the Lincoln, in the dark, friends around me but unable to see my face, alone with this tsunami of grief, I decided to try not to block the pain and instead to embrace how much I missed Mom, how much I wished I had danced with her.  I pushed back the shields as much as I could, and I opened myself to the pain as much as I know how.  I listened to the song, which I love, and I thought of Mom, whom I loved so much, and tears rolled down my cheeks.  My self-defense systems fought me, and in the end they won, because I could not full-on cry, could not sob, could not let the grief control my body for even a second, but in that minute, at that concert, listening to that song, I shed more tears for Mom than ever before.

This quiet battle, which matters only to me, passed in the first minute of the song, and then I was myself again, listening to the music and aching for my mother, but distantly, as one does for an opportunity missed long ago.

I thought about that intense minute again today, on Mom's birthday, and I decided to write about it as a belated gift to her, one she cannot enjoy but that at least I have tried to send, a shout into the ether as pointless and yet as heartfelt as those tears.

What we do for people we love once they are gone cannot help them.  I understand this so much better now than I did before Mom died.  If you love people, let them know now, if you can, if you are better at expressing your love than I ever was with my mother, because once they die you will have only tears and pain, and neither will warm them in the cold nights when they wonder, as we all inevitably do, if they are loved.

I love you, Mom.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

You should see The Jungle Book

for its effects, even if for no other reason.  The plot is a Disney version of Kipling's work, but it's a well-done one.  The voice acting is quite good.  The visuals, though, make the film worth your money.  They are stunning.

In scene after scene, you'll find yourself wondering what is real and what is not.  Most of the time, the animals are clearly animated, but they are the best animal animations I've ever seen.  The backgrounds are often so good that you forget you're watching anything animated.

I did enjoy the familiar story, by the way; I've focused here on the movie's look because it is so strong.

If you're at all interested in the state of the art of movie animation, check out The Jungle Book.

Friday, April 29, 2016

This scene from Say Anything

came up in a meeting today, so I had to put it here.  If you don't know the scene or the movie, you're the poorer for the lack.  Check it out, then go watch the film.

I'm not generally a big fan of teen romance movies, but some--Say Anything, Benny and Joon, and  Some Kind of Wonderful spring to mind--work powerfully for me.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Green Room

is a film, opening tomorrow, that puts me in an uncomfortable position:  its genre is one I normally avoid, but its lead, Patrick Stewart, is an actor whose films I try not to miss.  Both its reviews and its audience desire ratings are extremely high on Rottentomatoes.

I am torn.

If anyone has seen it, please drop me a message and let me know your thoughts on it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Rain pounding on skylights

over my head is one of the most beautiful writing soundtracks in the world.  Lovely, absolutely lovely.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Another exciting May movie

I've mentioned X-Men: Apocalypse before, and I've been excited about the movie since the first trailer.  After seeing this new trailer, though, I'm even more psyched to see the film.

May is looking to be a fun movie month!


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