Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Lobo line for you from No Going Back

I was making a few necessary tweaks and ran into this Lobo comment. It's one of my favorite of his--though I may yet change it; the book is far from done, but I am racing for the deadline.

“Humans,” Lobo said with a sigh, “can’t live with ‘em, can’t kill them all without more ammo than I can carry and without being really bored afterward.”
I love his mixture of the literal and the hyperbolic.

No, I won't tell you the context. For that, you'll have to read the book.

Friday, March 2, 2012

An iPhone I can get behind

Reader Simon Ng contacted me a while back with some questions, and we enjoyed a brief and pleasant correspondence. The other day, he sent me a note showing the name of his iPhone, and I had to share it with you--with his permission, of course.

I love the idea of Lobo delivering my blog and other information to Simon. If only the Siri voice in it could be that of Bill Nighy, the voice I hear in my head when Lobo is talking, it would be perfect.

Thanks, Simon, for the photo and the honor.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Two interesting action flicks, one opening day

March 23 will bring the opening of two action films I want to see, a rare (for this time of year) opening-day collision of similar movies.

One, most people will want to catch.

The Hunger Games is certain to be the blockbuster for that weekend.

The movie I want to see even more, though, probably won't open then in Raleigh.

Face it, The Raid: Redemption appears to be composed entirely of awesome.

My solution to this dilemma is simple: see them both as quickly as I can.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Santorum. Really?

To my great astonishment, Rick Santorum continues to show well in the Republican primary race. I honestly cannot understand how anyone can take him seriously.

Let's consider some example quotes of his.

On homosexuality:

"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."
Forget whether you agree with his stance on homosexuality; could we all at least agree that logic ought still to rule reasoned discourse? One thing here simply does not lead to the next.

Want something simpler?

Here's Senator Santorum on contraception:
“One of the things I will talk about that no President has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea. Many in the Christian faith have said, 'Well, that’s okay. Contraception’s okay.'

It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They’re supposed to be within marriage, they are supposed to be for purposes that are, yes, conjugal, but also [inaudible], but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen. We take any part of that out, we diminish the act. And if you can take one part out that’s not for purposes of procreation, that’s not one of the reasons, then you diminish this very special bond between men and women, so why can’t you take other parts of that out? And all of a sudden, it becomes deconstructed to the point where it’s simply pleasure. And that’s certainly a part of it—and it’s an important part of it, don’t get me wrong—but there’s a lot of things we do for pleasure, and this is special, and it needs to be seen as special."

Let's try another topic, something related to the economy. Here's Santorum on social security:
“The Social Security system, in my opinion, is a flawed design, period. But having said that, the design would work a lot better if we had stable demographic trends. We don’t have enough workers to support the retirees . . . A third of the young people in America are not in America today because of abortion.“

I'd do more, but I have a novel to finish.

Rick Santorum as our president: really?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Parlour is back...

...and you should be eating its ice cream.

If you don't know Parlour, it is an ice cream store in a truck. A member of the local food truck scene, Parlour, which you can also follow on Twitter, uses fresh, mostly local ingredients to create some amazingly tasty ice cream. Currently available flavors include

* vanilla

* chocolate

* salted butter caramel

* Vietnamese coffee

* cherry chocolate chip

* honey hazelnut crunch

* sweet potato

* key lime pie

* blueberry buttermilk

* chocolate cookies and cream
I've sampled most of these--heck, I have a pint each of almost all the flavors in the freezer right now, fatty food for novel crunching--and they are uniformly rich and delicious.

The people who run Parlour, whose names I'm embarrassed to admit I don't know, are also always extremely nice.

Support great ice cream. Support local sourcing. Support the food truck scene.

Eat at Parlour.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Piedmont isn't what it used to be

As long-time readers know, for years I've liked Piedmont restaurant in Durham. A year and a half ago, though, the good folks at Coon Rock Farm and Zely & Ritz bought it, put in a new chef, and changed the menu. The focus on local sourcing went up, which I applaud, but they also added a focus on relatively inexpensive prix fixe menus. Though this move is probably wise in our current economy, it often does not, in my experience, help the food.

The other night, a group of us ate dinner there to check it out after a long absence.

The food was good--but no more. Gone were the complexities or inventiveness of past Piedmont menus. My cauliflower soup, for example, tasted fine but was little more than cauliflower. My pork loin was overcooked and rubbed too heavily. It wasn't a bad meal, not by any stretch, but it also wasn't the kind of meal that left me wanting to come back--which every meal at, for example, Panciuto or Herons or Saint Jacques does, and which meals at the previous Piedmont did.

The service had slid far more than the food. Maybe it was just our server, who was quite nice but clearly not on her game, but nothing happened entirely properly. I always tip at least 20%, because I appreciate good service and how hard it is for servers to make a living, but in this case I made a tiny, probably unnoticed statement by coming in only a little above 15%.

If you're looking for decent, locally sourced food at a good price, I'd still urge you to check out Piedmont. If, however, you're looking for both local sourcing and a top-notch meal, give it a pass.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

UFC 144: How we fared

Before I dive into the details, let me get to the two most important points about our picks for last night:

1) Kyle won.

2) We sucked.
It was a night of upsets, a card in which the up-and-comers routinely defeated the favored established fighters.

The first fight started the trend.

Tiequan Zhang vs. Issei Tamura

The UFC broadcast this fight on the PPV after the main event, so I was able to catch it. We both expected the more experienced Zhang to take this match. Instead, Tamura dominated the first round, then knocked out Zhang shortly after the second began.

We started the night 0-1.

The next four fights were all on FX, where we started badly again.

Takeya Mizugaki vs. Chris Cariaso

We picked Mizugaki because of his experience fighting a better caliber of competition than Cariaso. I felt Miguzaki won the fight, though not by much, because Cariaso was in it the whole time. MMAWeekly agreed with us. Dana White, the UFC's president, also did and paid Mizugaki his win bonus. The judges, however, did not: they gave Cariaso a unanimous decision victory.

We were then both 0-2.

Riki Fukuda vs. Steve Cantwell

Finally, a fight that went the way we both predicted: Fukuda was simply too much for Cantwell. Cantwell hung in the bout until the very end, but Fukuda just beat him down and earned the decision victory. Expect Cantwell, who's now lost five in a row in the octagon, to be looking for work before the end of this coming week.

His loss, though, took us to 1-2.

Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto vs. Vaughan Lee

This match felt like one designed to ensure a victory for the Japanese Yamamoto over the British Lee. We both consequently chose Yamamoto.

It didn't go that way at all. Instead, Yamamoto came out strong but quickly learned that Lee was able to hurt him. With about a minute left in the fight, Lee hurt Yamamoto, got on him, transitioned smoothly from a triangle choke to an arm bar, and tapped out Yamamoto with what later proved to be the "Submission of the Night" bonus winning move.

We were down to 1-3.

Takanori Gomi vs. Eiji Mitsuoka

This fight also felt like one designed to give the favorite--in this case, The Fireball Kid, Takanori Gomi--a sure win. This time, though, it worked--though it wasn't clear for a while that it would. Mitsuoka gave Gomi all he could handle for the first round, but in the second Gomi came out firing and was too much for Mitsuoka. Gomi ultimately won via TKO in that round.

His victory helped us to 2-3 as we left the prelims and headed into the main card.

Anthony Pettis vs. Joe Lauzon

This fight marked our first disagreement. I bucked the odds and went with my heart by picking Lauzon, the poster boy for IT fighters. Kyle chose Pettis to win on his feet by being the better and more creative striker.

Kyle nailed it: Pettis knocked out Lauzon with a roundhouse kick in the first and earned himself the "Knockout of the Night" bonus in the process.

Kyle moved to even (3-3), while I dropped to 2-4.

Hatsu Hioki vs. Bart Palaszewski

I once again defied the oddsmakers with my pick of Palaszewski to win this fight. Kyle chose Hioki to notch the victory via ground control.

Kyle won our second disagreement as the Hioki won two rounds (one judge said all three) en route to a unanimous decision victory.

At this point, I was an amazingly bad 2-5, while Kyle had climbed above .500 to 4-3.

Yushin Okami vs. Tim Boetsch

In one of the no-brainer picks of the night, we both opted for Okami. He's faced better competition, he grew up in Japan and so would be fired up, and his skill set is superior to Boetsch's. All of that seemed to be true, as Okami dominated the first two rounds.

In the third round, though, Boetsch came out incredibly aggressive, landed a big right on Okami, followed Okami down, and beat on him until the ref called the fight.

Tim Boetsch's amazing comeback took Kyle back to even (4-4) and me to an astonishingly poor 2-6.

Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Jake Shields

Akiyama looked strong at welterweight, though his spray-on tan was more than a little odd. Shields looked cautious but in control, his game plan clear: strike, move away, take down. It was a close fight until the third round, when Shields got Akiyama's back and Akiyama grabbed the fence not once but twice--moves that should have cost him a point. Even without that penalty, however, Akiyama lost, Shields claimed the victory he very much needed, and Kyle and I notched another correct choice, moving us to 5-4 and 3-6, respectively.

Mark Hunt vs. Cheick Kongo

In our third and final disagreement of the night, Kyle was the one to buck the odds by picking Hunt. He was right, and in dramatic fashion as Hunt knocked down Kongo twice, pounced on him the second time, and put him away for the TKO victory.

Heading into the co-main event, Kyle had moved to 6-4, while I dropped to 3-7.

Quinton "Rampage" Jackson vs. Ryan Bader

Rampage was fighting in a place he loved and in front of an audience that loved him. He was ranked higher than Bader. We both figured he would knock out Bader.

We were both wrong. Bader mixed striking and the occasional take-down into a combination that Rampage simply could not handle. Rampage had moments in which he shined, but the fight was all Bader, and he won a unanimous decision.

Kyle was down to 6-5, while I sank to 3-8.

Frankie Edgar vs. Benson Henderson

Right before the fights, Brian Derrick posted a comment on yesterday's entry in which he said that Benson Henderson was an SF fan and that he had introduced Benson to my books. Derrick noted it was not too late for me to change my pick.

I didn't.

I should have.

We both figured Edgar would be too much for Henderson to handle, but wow, were we wrong. Henderson was the fresher fighter, he did more damage than Edgar, and as Fight Metric reported, he won on most key statistics. The judges agreed and crowned Henderson the new UFC Lightweight Champion.

Kyle ended the evening a sad 6-6, but he kicked my butt in our first contest of 2012, as I went 3-9, the worst I've ever done in fight picks.

The show, though, was excellent, with a lot of very entertaining fights.

As always, don't rely on us for betting advice!


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