Saturday, December 25, 2010

My Christmas wish for you

In this wonderful Stephen Kellogg song, the studio version of which is on an album, The Bear, that I consider to be the best CD I heard this year, he sings about the sleep of a satisfied man and what a treasure it is. I wish that satisfaction for you all--and maybe, one day, for myself as well.

If you celebrate Christmas, I hope yours is grand and filled with love and joy. If you don't, I still hope your day is grand and filled with love and joy.

That's all for me for today!

Friday, December 24, 2010

TRON: Legacy

Last night, a group of us went to check out this sequel to the 1982 film that many of us remember fondly--though for its look, which at the time was quite cool, not its story. My expectations were low, but as a card-carrying geek (what? you don't have yours?), I had to give it a try.

Like its predecessor, the movie looked nifty. Its world was no longer new, so it was not revolutionary, but it was stylized enough that as long as you didn't question the silliness of characters who were on the run wearing glowing clothing, you could enjoy the graphics.

It also had a strong Daft Punk soundtrack, one that, as Kyle noted, improved every scene in which it was playing.

Also like its predecessor, TRON: Legacy displayed terrible science, dialog that was weak at best, and a plot that worked only so long as you never thought for a moment about it and instead just accepted that you'd be watching the characters go here and there doing this and that.

Despite all the film's weaknesses, I enjoyed it well enough that, unlike when I went to The Tourist, I didn't leave the theater regretting the time and money I'd expended. I can't honestly recommend TRON: Legacy, but if you're a geek, you'll be going anyway, and you'll have a pleasant enough time.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Seasonal Celebration

A while back, I mentioned a fancy party and promised to talk a little bit more about it. I forgot, but some readers didn't, so at their urging, here's some additional information on it.

On Saturday, December 11, we held PT's annual end-of-year/holiday party, which we call the Seasonal Celebration (SC). We've been using that term for longer than PT has existed; it dates back to our days at Ziff-Davis. We chose it because it offends no religion; everyone can celebrate any season. Most of the attendees dress up--way up, think gowns and fancy dresses and suits and, for Bill and me, our tuxes. Each employee can bring a guest, and most do. We have an open-bar reception for an hour, then a fancy sit-down meal at a great local place.

After dinner, we thank all the folks who work at PT for their dedication and great efforts, and we thank their friends and family for putting up with all that the company requires of them. We also show them a presentation about how the past year went; this time, it was a wonderful animated show that for confidentiality reasons I can't put here.

Finally, we thank people in concrete ways: with some gifts, which until then are secret, and with profit-sharing checks (assuming, of course, that the company was profitable that year).

I'm always proud to be part of the PT team and humbled by the chance to get to help lead such a fine group. The SC is a high point for us each year, and I know some folks are already looking forward to 2011's.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


The most amazing thing about Unstoppable is how well it works despite everything you know when you walk into the theater:

* The train isn't going to derail and cause a giant crisis in central Pennsylvania because, hey, you would have heard about that mess when it happened.

* No attempt at stopping the train is going to work in the first ninety minutes, because big movies today have to be longer than that.

* Denzel Washington's character isn't going to die, because (1) he's Denzel, and (2) it's not an art-house movie that going's to net him an Oscar, so there's no way in hell he's going to die without a shot at that gold.

* Chris Pine's character isn't going to die, because (1) he's the hot young male lead, and (2) Denzel's in charge, and no one's going to die on Denzel's watch unless he has a shot at that Oscar gold.

* Rosario Dawson's character can't get in big trouble, because (1) she's Rosario Dawson, and (2) if Denzel's not getting hurt, no way is Rosario down for the pain.

* All three of those actors are so much prettier than the people they portray that the train would have stopped just to stare at them.

Even with all that going against it, the movie works. It keeps you on the edge of your seat. It builds the suspense gradually and correctly. The failures seem plausible and rope you into cheering for them.

It is a triumph of suspenseful style over content.

If you haven't seen it already, check it out before it leaves the theaters. It looks good on the big screen.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Tourist

Never has a film wasted so much beauty as The Tourist. Angelina Jolie alternates between achingly beautiful and searingly hot. Johnny Depp delivers his bumbling everyman character with all of his customary charm and appeal. The brief moments in Paris made me ache to return, and Venice has never been lovelier. Even the room in the Hotel Danieli looked better than any lodging should.

Sadly, beauty was all the film had going for it. The lead actors were as disconnected from one another as if they had never met. The plot meandered along in entirely predictable steps, so that by the big surprise at the end all that was left for me to wonder was when they would finally, please, God, finally tell us the "surprise." To call The Tourist formulaic would be to praise it.

I am a hardcore Angelina fan, and I own the DVDs of every film of hers, but I don't plan to pick up this one. Spend your holiday entertainment money and time elsewhere.

Monday, December 20, 2010


One of our area's better restaurants has, for some years now, been Chef Shane Ingram's Foursquare Restaurant. It's no surprise, then, that the moment I learned Ingram had opened a new place, [ONE] Restaurant, I was intrigued. Then, I read a review and learned that Ingram's team at [ONE] was dabbling in deconstructing dishes and even a bit of molecular gastronomy.

I immediately secured a reservation for a group of us, and the other night we headed over to check it out.

I'm very glad we did. The meal was excellent. Every dish we tasted was delicious, and several were stunning. The pork belly croutons deserve all the accolades they've been garnering. The short rib meat was so tender it practically fell apart and a perfect rich, strong dish on a cold winter night. The mushroom pizza combined a perfect thin crust with flavorful mushrooms and a gentle scattering of covering cheese.

Even the desserts, which are often suspect in an adventurous kitchen, were superb; in fact, they may have trumped the main courses. We tried five, and each was a winner; I was particularly fond of the deconstructed goat's cheese cheesecake.

I also loved the look of the place: gray and red chairs, gray walls, black floors and ceilings, everything elegant and subdued so that nothing drew attention from the real star: the massive open kitchen that runs along one side of the main dining room. (If you go with a small group, sit at the bar and enjoy the show from the best seats in the house.)

Though [ONE] is new, it is already among the best local restaurants. I recommend it highly.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

If you're feeling down on yourself

as a lot of people I know are feeling right now, as they confront rough personal issues during what should be a joy-filled holiday season, maybe this song will help.


Yesterday, the Senate voted 65 to 31 to end the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law. Finally, gay and lesbian members of the armed forces don't have to hide their love.

I know a young man who is going through college in ROTC. He is a conservative, a Republican, and a patriot. I doubt we could have a political conversation longer than five minutes without getting into an argument, but I respect greatly his choice to serve his country, and I like him. Until yesterday, he could not hold his boyfriend's hand in public without risking his career. As far as I'm concerned, that's just wrong, and I'm glad the law that made him have to hide is now behind us.


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