Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Equalizer

For the first roughly 40 of its 131 minutes, The Equalizer attempts to show us that Denzel Washington's Robert McCall is a loner, a man who lives on the fringes of society, keeping to himself, clearly hiding a past.  We know all that because the trailers told us so.  What the movie really does is show us a guy who lives alone but who is friends with pretty much everyone at his workplace, a guy who we know is special only because he's Washington.  Those 40 minutes should have been 20 minutes, and they should have foreshadowed his growing frustration at the violence rampant in his world.

After that time, though, the action starts, and from then on the movie is exactly the sort of ride we expect it to be.  McCall is unbelievably perfect, able to absorb insane amounts of punishment, capable of acts not possible to mere mortals, and, well, exactly what audiences want him to be.  Proof of this expectation is readily available:  the Rotten Tomatoes ratings for the film are 59% positive from critics, but 83% positive from moviegoers.  I count myself in the latter camp, because I came for exactly the sort of movie it was, and so I left reasonably satisfied--except, of course, with those first 40 minutes. 

The one area in which this movie easily beats others of its type is the performance of its lead.  Denzel Washington speaks relatively little in the movie, but he doesn't have to talk to let the audience know what he's thinking.  His facial control is perfect, and his ability to communicate non-verbally is one few actors can match.  The film is worth seeing for his performance alone.

If you're a fan of Washington's, or if you're in the mood for the sort of movie The Equalizer is, you will quite enjoy it, and I encourage you to see it.

Do, though, take any bathroom break in the opening half hour.

Friday, September 26, 2014

I'm lucky to work at PT

I've long said that I'm very lucky to work at Principled Technologies (PT).  We have a great team, and I am fortunate to be able to work with them.

Now, another group, The Triangle Business Journal (TBJ), has come to a similar conclusion.  In a luncheon today, they celebrated the winners of their annual Best Places To Work competition.  We had learned in July that PT, which entered the competition for the first time this year, was among the 50 winners.  Today, I was in the audience at the luncheon as they announced that PT had won second place in the Medium Company category

Though I was the one who got to pick up the award, it belongs to everyone in PT. 

I remain proud to be able to work with them all.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Gambit - the original

In Monday's entry, I wrote about our recent viewing of the 2012 version of Gambit. Having just seen this remake, we decided to check out the 1966 original.  I'd seen it a long time ago, but aside from remembering Michael Caine, Shirley MacLaine, and Herbert Lom as the stars, the movie hadn't stuck with me much.

After watching it, I understand why:  The 1966 original just didn't quite work as well as it should have.  Two problems kept the film from being all it should have been.

First, the bad guy, the man they were plotting to rob, simply wasn't all that bad.  In the remake, Alan Rickman chewed the scenery and made himself easy to dislike.  In the same role earlier, Herbert Lom was a bit of a jerk, but not exceptionally so.  It wasn't Lom's fault; he did all he could with the part.  The script simply gave him little to do.

Second, the original was too long, so long that at times it dragged.  A full 20 minutes longer than the remake, it just didn't have enough going on to warrant all the extra time.

I found the exercise of comparing the two films interesting, but even though the original has rather higher ratings than the remake on the few sites I checked, I very much prefer the 2012 version to the original.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

More great British food: The Clove Club

I have for some time owed you a description of yet another meal I enjoyed while in London, a meal I mentioned in a post about the first day of the London WorldCon. That dinner was at The Clove Club, and it, like my meal at The Ledbury, proved that truly great British food is readily available today.

The Clove Club is relatively new, but in its short life it as already become a hot spot and earned a ranking of number 88 from the folks who assemble the lists behind The Worlds 50 Best Restaurants. Chef Isaac McHale drew on his time at The Ledbury and his work doing pop-ups and other foodie events to create a restaurant that manages to combine the friendly atmosphere of a no-frills pub with upscale, wonderful cuisine that relies heavily on British ingredients.

The menu is fixed; you get what they want to serve.  To some, this is off-putting.  I love it.  The night our group was there, we chose the extended menu.

Click an image to see a larger version.

The snacks were lovely, rustic, and delicious.  Check out a few of them.

One bit, often a single bite, per person, each one scrumptious, each one different from all the others.

I won't go through all the courses, but I must note that the grouse were among the first of the season, and they were delicious.  The chefs showed us the birds before carving.

We then each received a plate of our own

and one with shared bits.

The different cuts of the birds were, as you'd expect, very different in flavor, but all were delicious.

Back when I worked for a company with offices in Britain, I would tease them often about the food.  Were I to run into them today, I would offer myself as a strong advocate of the fact that great British food is indeed on offer all over London from talented chefs working with local ingredients--just as similar great food is now available almost anywhere.

Should you be in London, I highly recommend The Clove Club.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Another episode of Now with PT

is live and available for your viewing pleasure.  This one covers recent work on everything from clouds to Chromebooks.  These videos are a fun way to check out some of the cool stuff we're doing at PT.


Monday, September 22, 2014


Back in the dim dark days of 1966, Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine starred in a fun little heist romp of a film, Gambit.  In 2012, a new team appropriated the name and the underlying concept of that earlier film and created their own version of Gambit, this time with Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz in the starring roles.  The film did so badly in the U.K. that the studio never even released it in the U.S.  Instead, they took it straight to DVD.

To my surprise, I only recently learned about this new version.  Given that it also features Alan Rickman and Stanley Tucci, two actors I follow, I am amazed that I had never heard of the movie before--but I had indeed somehow missed it.  Once I discovered it, however, I ordered it, and the other night a group of us watched it.

I loved it from start to finish.  With Colin Firth doing a blend of his usual performance and the sort of comedy Peter Sellers once provided, he was a wonderful lead.  Cameron Diaz kept up well enough to make her character interesting.  Alan Rickman was, as always, delightful, and Stanley Tucci chewed hard on the scenery.  The plot was engaging and constructed well enough that even though you could spot the ending early on, you still had a great time getting to it.

If you can find this movie on Netflix or for sale on DVD, do check it out.  You'll have a delightful hour and a half.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The best meal I ate in Atlanta

was at Gunshow, as I mentioned in an earlier post from DragonCon.  Chef Kevin Gillespie and his team have created a superb restaurant based on an unusual concept:  The chefs who cook your dishes bring them to you and explain them. 

After you sit down, a server hands you a menu.

Click an image to see a larger version.

You choose something, and the person who brought it to you adds hash marks to the menu.  As you can see on the one above, at this point we had ordered four beverages and one dish, the incredibly delicious tuna tartare with egg.

No, I'm not going to show you our menu at the end, because the number of dishes we tried was downright embarrassing. 

You don't actually order anything other than beverages off the menu.  A chef wanders by with a few dishes he or she has just cooked.  If you like it, you take it--and the chef puts another hash mark on your menu.  It's a delightful way to eat, because you get to talk to the creator of each dish and learn about that dish. 

I have to mention the "Steak frites made by a French guy," which was as good a version of this venerable dish as I have ever tasted.

The chef leaned over, presented the dish, and said, "Would you like to try the steak frites? I'm the French guy."  Everything about this dish was perfect.

The restaurant was hopping when we were there, loud and happy and full of life.

Every single person who worked there seemed glad to be there and invested in what she or he was doing.

The atmosphere was contagious; I found myself smiling all the time and just happy to be there. 

Every single dish was delicious. 

Great food, great people, and a wonderful vibe; Gunshow has it all.  I recommend it highly and without reservation.


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