Saturday, April 18, 2015

Woman in Gold

The critical summary over at Rottentomatoes was not good, with a rating of only 54%.  Audiences were much kinder, with an 88% approval nod, which is a good sign.  Helen Mirren was starring, and I've long adored her.  So after consideration and with a bit of trepidation, I went.

I'm so very glad I did.

Ignore the critics.  This film is anything but dull.  I found it engrossing from start to finish.  Based on a true story, the plot follows a predictable path, as an older woman enlists a young attorney to fight the Austrian government to regain a Klimt painting of her aunt.  Even if you don't know the story, you can guess where the plot is going, but that doesn't matter; the ride is good enough to be worth taking.

The acting is generally excellent.  Mirren is as wonderful to watch as always.  Co-star Ryan Reynolds managed to suppress his natural smirk almost all of the time and actually turned in a nuanced and interesting performance.  Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany was perfect as the young Mirren.

If you're seeking the next big summer action flick, Woman in Gold is obviously not the right choice.  If, though, you'd like a good movie, one that will grab you and shake you and keep you absorbed, do not miss this one.

Friday, April 17, 2015

I didn't think I was excited about the new Star Wars movie

but then I watched this trailer and decided that just maybe I was.

At a minimum, I'm now definitely going to check it out.

Good job, JJ Abrams.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Five signs that your neck is too big

5.  NFL players whistle in awe and ask what neck-training regimen you follow.

4.  Small children wonder aloud how your head stays on without a neck.

3.  No dress shirt's collar will close unless you start with a garment five sizes bigger than what you wear and have the tent tailored into something that fits your body.

2.  ENT specialists demand triple-time if they have to work on it.

1.  European assassins have to bring garrote extenders when they come to kill you.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Check out Bill's video blog

In a post last fall, I mentioned that Bill was writing a very good blog, Tech Everywhere, for PT.  Now, we've made a few video entries for his blog, and the first one is live.

If you're at all interested in connected tech, the Internet of Things, or just cool gadgets, check out this video and then read all the blog entries.  Bill loves this stuff, he lives with it, and then he writes cogently about his experiences with it.  You can learn a great deal of useful information from his blog.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Would you buy an ice cream cone from this man?

I wouldn't.  Fortunately, today was Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day, so no one had to consider shopping with me.

Not that I was selling ice cream, mind you.  I spent the afternoon running various errands I could no longer put off.  Near the end of those tasks, I realized both that it was free ice cream day and I was two minutes away from a Ben & Jerry's store.  Having never been able to take advantage of this treat before, I could not pass it up.

My tiny cup of Cherry Garcia, one of the all-time great ice cream flavors, was delicious.  Despite a long line that never vanished, the people serving us were relentlessly nice and cheerful.

It was a lovely break on a weekday, and one I heartily recommend should you have the opportunity to take it.

Monday, April 13, 2015

If you've been wondering whether the new Mumford and Sons album

will be okay while still being electric, wonder no more.  It will not be okay.  It will be way, way better than okay.

How do I know?

This live version of "The Wolf," a studio version of which appears on the new album.

Oh, yeah.

I can't wait to give this one a listen--or three.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Feast of the Seven Kingdoms

is the name of a special dinner that Chef/Proprietor Sean Fowler of the excellent Raleigh restaurant Mandolin held earlier tonight.  The party occupied all of the larger side of the restaurant; the other portion was closed.  As the title of the special meal implies, Fowler and many of his staff are big fans of The Game of Thrones books and TV series from creator George R.R. Martin.  In a pre-meal presentation, Fowler said that as he was reading the books he paid particular attention to the meals, and he found the cuisines well thought out and interesting.  He was able to base all of the courses in the dinner on dishes from the books.

Click an image to see a larger version.

The first of the eight courses was just a small snack, and it contained crickets, not locusts, because Fowler's team could not readily obtain the latter.

(Sorry for the blurry photo.)  I've never eaten crickets before, so I didn't know what to expect.  What we got was a sweet, crunchy snack that I quite enjoyed.

The octopus and clam dish smelled and tasted of the sea and was delicious.  Fowler's crew prepared the octopus perfectly.

The presentation was also just right, with a good blend of rustic pot and rough-looking (but, again, delicious) chunks of octopus.

Before anyone complains, no, despite what the menu says, Fowler did not serve us actual horse hearts.  The tartar was of beef heart.

Some in our group found the chunks of meat a bit too large, but I thought they were just right.  All agreed it was quite tasty.

The best dish in the meal--a collection in which every course was extremely good--came next:  the lamb-stuffed grape leaves.

From the sauce to the leaf to the incredible mixture of lamb and spices and fruit inside, this dish was perfect.  I have never tasted a stuffed grape leaf as good.  Several of us implored Fowler to put this one on Mandolin's regular menu.

And on the meal went, each course lovely and so very good.  The bacon-wrapped trout:

The beef and barley stew:

The boar, with apples and mushrooms:

The final course, the dessert, was a lovely and tasty simple tart, decorated in flowers.

If Fowler does anything similar again--and now I hope he does--I will most definitely be there.  I encourage you to attend, too--after I buy my tickets, of course.


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