Saturday, March 24, 2012

An still has a long way to go

An, an Asian fusion restaurant in Cary, was the first big restaurant project of Jim and Ann Goodnight. Though first, it has stood for some time now in the shadow of its younger, much more polished brother, Herons at The Umstead Hotel. After eating a few times at An and finding the meals always good but not in any particular way outstanding or memorable, I crossed the place off my list.

Then, though, I heard that in mid February An had gained a new Executive Chef, Steven Devereaux Greene, who had moved over from Heron's. I've eaten tasting menus Greene had directed, and they were inventive and tasty, so I resolved to give An another shot.

Sadly, nothing much has changed.

I tried their tasting menu, to give the kitchen the chance to put its best foot forward. They skipped the amuse, which is unusual but acceptable. The first three courses, all seafood, were tasty, though relatively simple. The palate cleanser was both not very good and came on a metal spoon that had frost on it from sitting in the refrigerator. Surely they could have scooped a quenelle on the spot instead of delivering frozen spoons. The main course, some delicate duck slices, was quite good, though again somewhat simple.

Up to this point, the meal would have been just good enough to bring me back, but with one serious problem I'll discuss in a minute.

The dessert was simply terrible. Miso is not a good thing to put on sesame cake, as I learned the hard way. It alone was enough to make me not want to return.

The big issue was pacing. Time from sitting down to finishing paying the check, for five courses, with a five-minute wait on the check after I requested it: one hour and nine minutes. They were practically slinging out the courses. A gentler pace would be much, much better.

I'm going to choose to believe that Greene has not had time to put his stamp on An, and in a few months, I'll try it again. Right now, though, it's just another completely acceptable Asian fusion place. That's a good thing, but it's not, I believe, what An aspires to be.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Lobo on...spotting your enemies

At one point in No Going Back, someone shoots Jon. As Jon is telling Lobo about this incident, Jon expresses some concern about the person who shot him. Lobo thinks this is a dumb choice on Jon's part and offers the following advice:

Try to remember the simple things: If they shoot you, they're not on your side.
Words to live by.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

So you're at a food truck rodeo

and you see this menu:

(As always, click on the image to see a larger one.)

Do you say
A) What the hell is a fried green tomato?

B) Eew!

C) That could be okay.


You know my answer: E.

Check out this lovely beast in half-eaten cross-section:

Man, oh man, was that a delicious OnlyBurger. If you live in this area and haven't had one of their burgers, you are sinning against everything that is meaty, juicy, and delicious.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lobo on...human justice

I thought it might be fun to give you the occasional peek into Lobo's mind with his comments to Jon on various topics. All will come from No Going Back. I'll provide them as the mood strikes me--or if enough of you yell loudly enough.

At one point in the book, Jon says,

“What about the law? It exists to provide justice. That’s not mine to decide or to deliver.”
After which, Lobo reacts.
Lobo laughed. “I love that you can still make me laugh. Human legal systems exist for many reasons, justice being only one of them. It’s almost certainly true that the men at that auction were wealthy and, at least some of them, maybe most of them, were also powerful. Find anywhere, anytime in human history in which justice for the rich and powerful was the same as justice for the average person, and I’ll change my position...."
Anyone care to argue with him?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Songs related to No Going Back

In a comment on an earlier post, Brian asked what songs I played on repeat as I wrote No Going Back. I answered honestly: too many to recall, because I was on that book for so long.

What I realized, though, is that some songs reflect the state of Jon's mind and emotions--though he wouldn't be able to tell you that fact. This is one of those songs. Yeah, it's over-played and so very yesterday and no longer hot, but it's right for one aspect of his head.


A bit more about Bruce and the novels

When I wrote the first Jon & Lobo story, "My Sister, My Self," I intended it to be the initial chapter of an episodic novel. The second chapter was to be called "Benny the Geek." I intended that each chapter begin with a song quote.

Then I sold that first story. Upon doing so, young writer me learned that you can't simply use a quote from a song in a story; you have to pay for the right. So, I set about securing the rights to use the 15 words I had quoted at the start of "My Sister, My Self." Those words were by, yes, Bruce Springsteen, and they were from the song, "The River." After some work--this was pre-Internet, doncha know--I was able to buy the rights for $25.

I got about seven cents a word, but I paid the Boss about $1.67 a word.

I wrote a check, mailed it, and realized then that, hey, I would get a Springsteen autograph on the back of that check.

No such luck.

The check returned with a stamped deposit authorization on the back.

The next chapter, whose contents and more now appear in Children No More, was to begin with a quote from a Jefferson Airplane song.

I'd repeat the two quotes here, but then I might owe more money, and right now, with over four hundred bucks of Springsteen tickets just having gone to others while I stayed home, I couldn't bear it. See me in person, though, and I'll tell you what they were.

I can show you the song from which the second quote would have come.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Bummed...and how Bruce Springsteen and my novels are related

Tonight in Greensboro, less than an hour and a half away, Bruce Springsteen the E Street Band are playing in concert. I have tickets, pretty good though not great seats.

I won't be there, though, due to this blasted stomach bug. I just cannot be far from a bathroom for long.

I am severely bummed. Reports of his shows on this tour have been great; check out, for example, this one on his apparently amazing SXWS performance.

I wanted to be there to remember the Big Man, Clarence Clemons, and to see the new E Street horns section, which includes Jake Clemons, the Big Man's nephew. I wanted to be there because I love the music. I wanted...well, you get it.

I am glad others are using the tickets; Sarah and Ben will get to enjoy the show. I am so very sad right now, though, to miss it.

Which sadness brings me to the direct tie between Springsteen and the Jon and Lobo books. I wrote the first Jon Moore story, "My Sister, My Self," in 1982. (You can find it now in my Jump Gate Twist collection, which brought it back into print after over 25 years of being unavailable.) While writing that story, I wanted to maintain a certain feeling, a very particular mood. To that end, the entire time I was working on that story, hour after hour, I played the same side--side 3, or the first side of the second record--of Springsteen's amazing record, The River. Yes, this was on vinyl. That side captured perfectly for me the sense of loss in the story.

Among the songs on that side were the title tune, "The River." Here's a moving version that includes a little tribute to the Big Man.

Damn, I sure hope this isn't the Boss' last tour.

Damn, I'm sad at missing this.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I'm sick

A particularly intense stomach crud is going around, and I now have it. I'll spare you the details.

While I'm away, enjoy this comic, which Griffin turned me on to and which always cheers me.

I suppose that says something about me.

Now, back to being sick.


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