Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Motorized Hot Dog Throne of Doom

Enough folks have bugged me about this reference that I'm finally going to relent and explain it.

One night at World Fantasy Con in San Jose, four of us--Griffin, Ticia, Jennie, and I--were holding down a corner of the lovely and huge lobby bar area. We were all very, very tired, and at least one of us was drinking, though not excessively. I believe I had just finished doing the Liars Panel and so was buzzed from performing.

In other words, the area was ripe with potential for silliness.

We began discussing my strange desire to own this amazing hot dog statue, which I've discussed before in this blog. Someone remarked--I'm not hiding anyone's role, I just can't remember who said what because it all unfolded very quickly--on the fact that this thing had a wheeled base.

We then remembered that it was also available in a three-foot version.

From there, it was a short leap to welding a seat on the front of the six-foot hot dog, bolting the two three-foot statues to either side of the big one for stability, and in a move of Tool Guy-like genius, attaching a large motor to the back of the whole thing.

We were almost there, but something was lacking. What could it be?

Guns, of course! Water pistols and such for play, real weapons for serious combat.

Voila! The Motorized Hot Dog Throne of Doom!

I would so drive that around the house and down the sidewalk at the beach, perhaps with a jaunty shade duct-taped to the big dog's mustard bottle to protect me from the sun.

I know, I know: You had to be there. But we were, and we laughed so hard I thought I was going to die.

I do, though, still want that contraption.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Why wait?

Jennie sent me this picture with a note that this could be me in 30 years.

My thinking is simple: Why wait? Get me that hat, and I'm heading to Wal*Mart right now!

Even better, imagine me in this hat on the motorized hot dog throne of doom. Wow, I'm getting shivers.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How big a geek am I?

My car's been approaching a mileage milestone--all "1"s, 11111 miles--for some time now, and being a numbers geek, I've been unreasonably excited about the prospect. Tonight, as I was driving back from a concert by Sarah's orchestra (more on that tomorrow), I realized the changeover would occur during this trip.

In a flash, I knew I had to photograph the magic moment.

This task was not without its challenges, because it was after 10:00 p.m. and I was going 74 miles per hour on a 65-mph freeway. Nonetheless, I pulled out my iPhone, thumbed up the camera app, and while steering with my knees tried to focus the camera on the odometer.

Yes, you were glad not to be on the highway with me at that moment. Fortunately, few people were.

At this point, Allyn, who was in the car with me, was not pleased with my driving. I suggested that she could improve it by unbuckling, climbing on the hump, leaning over, and focusing the camera on the odometer while I leaned to the left to see around her.

She did not like this idea.

Even when I pointed out that if we were in an accident her death would be a most memorable one as she shot like a rocket through the windshield, she did not like my plan.

I then offered that if her reflexes were fast enough, she could grab my hair on the way through the glass and perhaps either stay in the car or at least scalp me--but still she did not like the idea.

Some people.

Fortunately, the changeover came just after we left the freeway, so I was able to pull over to the side of the road and take this happy snap.

Pretty cool, eh?

Yes, I know: I am a very big geek indeed.

I still think the ride-the-hump-while-taking-the-photo idea could have worked.

Cosi fan Tutte

A while ago, Sarah's orchestra played for a partially staged version of this Mozart opera, so of course we went to the show. I enjoyed the music, the orchestra's performance of it, both the singing and the acting of the performers, and the minimal staging.

The story, though, pissed me off. Lorenzo Da Ponte's libretto played with a well-used device: fiancee swapping. An older man says that he can prove to two young men that all women are fickle--and he can do it in one day. At his urging, the two male leads pretend to go to war, then return as rich Albanians and woo each other's fiancees. Eventually, they succeed and get the women to state their love for the new men, thus proving the old man's point.

I was okay with it to this point. If you want to write a story claiming that all people are fickle, I won't argue with you. I might like to believe otherwise, though I'm not even sure I do, but it's certainly a fair point to make.

What pissed me off is that when the men reveal who they truly are, instead of apologizing for being bitches, they berate the women--and the women take it as due chastisement. I understand that in the time and the culture of this opera women's rights were far from what they are today, but as far as I'm concerned, entrapment is entrapment, and the men were if anything far worse than the women.

I hope that after the first performance of this show, Lorenzo Da Ponte went home to a very cold bed that stayed icy for some time.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Just how much are the Spanish into ham?

This much:

Yeah, that's right: Ruffles with ham flavor.

Sorry about the wrinkles, by the way. I carried that bag all the way back from the Barcelona airport after Scott and I consumed the contents while waiting for our plane. When he first told me we had to buy some chips, I argued with him that potato chips were both unhealthy and unnecessary, but after he showed me the bag, I knew instantly that I should have trusted my son. Of course we had to eat them!

Lest you worry that these chips tasted like the chemical abominations they probably were, relax: They were yummy. Our only regret was not buying two bags.

I'm very glad not to have seen them for sale in any store near us, because then I'd have one more bad habit to break.

I think it's time to order some Jamon Iberico.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Four of us went to see this movie Saturday night, and I rather liked it. Of course, I'm a card-carrying fan boy, so I would, but I think the movie provides enough genuine heart and action to attract a far wider audience than just those geeky enough to harbor strong feelings about whether it should be "Doctor Who" or "Dr. Who," a topic the refreshment-counter attendant and I were discussing before the film. ("Doctor Who," of course, and I will brook no argument.)

The plot proceeds basically as you expect it to go, but for this sort of film, that's okay, even desirable. Matthew Vaughn, the director, is constantly navigating between opposing forces--realism vs. fantasy, parody vs. straight film--and in general he achieves a reasonable balance. The silliness, which is inevitable, only becomes irretrievably over the top by the end, at which point the film has earned enough suspension of disbelief that you don't mind.

I thought the cast was generally fine, but Chloe Grace Moretz, who plays Hit Girl, steals the show. Every time she's on screen, the camera loves her, and the movie is better for her presence.

I must note one thing: If you're the kind of person who cannot suspend disbelief, or if you must look at every movie that contains kids and ask if the actions of those kids is healthy, then do not see Kick-Ass. We already know that it's not a good idea to train your daughter to kill, so you have to accept a world in which that training is acceptable or the film will appall you.

For everyone else, I recommend it.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Saint Jacques, take two

I gave this restaurant a rave review a while back, but a single meal can often be deceiving. So, both to get a second take on the place and because it was so good, a group of us headed back there last night. I'd talked with the owner beforehand, so he had made a special menu for us--not a tasting menu, but a new, one-night-only menu from which we could order.

We tried almost everything on that menu.

It was all great.

Amazingly, this meal was even better than the first one we'd eaten there. Not a single dish any of us had was less than excellent. I started with sweetbreads with a truffled potato, and they were the best sweetbreads I've ever tasted. The truffled potato croquettes were exquisite. My second course, a foie gras pasta with two perfectly prepared scallops atop the thin and wide noodles, contained possibly the best pasta sauce I've ever had. It was amazing. I hope no one noticed me wiping the bowl with my finger. The main course was a beef tenderloin done in a classic French sauce and with bacon, and again the sauce was wonderful, the meat perfectly prepared, and the accompanying potato delicious.

I've eaten at Joel Robuchon and Guy Savoy in Las Vegas, two of the best French restaurants in America, and I would rank this guy's sauces alongside theirs.

We will definitely eat there again. If you live in Raleigh, do not miss this place.


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