Saturday, May 21, 2016

When I saw the first trailer for Star Trek Beyond

I knew I would be excited to see the movie because, hey, Star Trek, Justin Lin, and JJ Abrams.  Of course I'd be there.

After watching this new trailer, however, I'm completely psyched for this summer blockbuster.

We now have more action, aliens boarding the Enterprise, and Idris Elba in full forehead alien mode.  Face it:  everything gets better with Idris Elba.

Oh, yeah, I am so ready for this one!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Are you having trouble sleeping?

Cone Man can help.

Of course, first you have to persuade him you are worthy.

He's a sneaky bastard who respects sneaky people, so your best bet is to start by trying to sneak up on him, as if he can't see your side-on approach.

Click the image to see a larger version.

Of course, he can see you, but he won't be able to stop himself from spinning to look at you.

Once you're face-to-face with him, give in to his psychic pressure, draw closer, and stare into the blackness of his eyes, twin voids that link directly to his soulless true self.

Oh, you'll fall asleep then, once he locks his gaze on yours.

What happens next, though, and what you dream, well, no one can help that.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The best dog in the world protects a bone

For no reason I could fathom, one evening not long ago, Holden decided that everyone in our den was a threat to one of his bones.  Having reached that decision, he leapt into action to defend the bone.

First, he tried distracting us all by moving his head and tail so quickly that they became blurry.

Click an image to see a larger version.

That ploy worked briefly, but we must have paid too much attention to the bone, because he then decided to draw away our attention by walking toward a person and psychically broadcasting, "Follow me with your eyes, me, just me, not that bone, only me."

He next tried a blend of fast motion and psychic persuasion.

I must not have responded as he wished, because he then decided to reassess whether the bone was worth all the effort it was causing him.

Eventually, he decided that it was indeed a worthy bone, so he beseeched me directly not to let anyone touch it.

Holden carried the day.  I agreed we would all leave the bone in his able care.

The bone thanked him.

The greatest dog in the world averted another crisis.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

HB2 screws North Carolina--and me--again

I've written a few times about our noxious House Bill 2 (HB2), which among many awful things basically legalizes discrimination against transgender people.  I hate this bill.  Most of the North Carolinians I know hate this bill.  The Attorney General of the U.S. is suing North Carolina over this bill.

Yet our jerk of a governor and our equally awful Republican legislators continue to stand behind it.

A while back, I had tickets to a Cirque du Soleil show that Cirque cancelled in response to this bill.  I'm sorry I missed the show, but I had to support their decision to boycott the state.

Earlier tonight, I was to be sitting with Scott and others enjoying a performance of the legendary violinist, Itzhak Perlman, with the North Carolina Symphony.  We had seen Perlman perform once before and had greatly enjoyed the show, so we were looking forward to tonight's concert.

Perlman cancelled yesterday.  In a statement, he said,

As my fans know, I have spent a lifetime advocating against discrimination towards those with physical disabilities and have been a vocal advocate for treating all people equally.  As such, it is only after much deliberation that I have decided to cancel tomorrow’s concert in North Carolina as a stand against House Bill 2.
As much as I wanted to go, I once again have to support this decision.

According to Perlman's agent (read more here), Perlman was going to play the show, make a statement, and donate his proceeds to Equality North Carolina.

The NC Symphony, however, is a state-supported non-partisan organization and so could not allow the statement.  I respect their decision, in that to sustain their funding and to avoid getting in serious trouble with our state government, they had to make this decision.  Fair enough.

That stance, though, cost them a sold-out concert, a great deal of money, and probably a lot of disillusioned supporters.

If our government won't repeal this bill, we in North Carolina need to make damn sure that we replace it in November with a government that will remove the blight that is HB2 and provide equal rights to all.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Counter shines again

If there's a better restaurant in Austin than Counter 3 . FIVE . VII, I want to eat there ASAP.  After multiple visits to this downtown restaurant, I have yet to taste a dish worse than very good, and almost all of them have been excellent.  Tonight's meal continued the winning streak for Counter, with seven wonderful courses that proved once again that this team has serious culinary game.

The menu was the usual intriguing set of seven courses, only one of which I've tasted before.  (They've created 102 dishes in the past year.)

Click an image to see a larger version.

That repeat, the rhubarb with Newsom's ham and brown butter,

was one of my favorites, a tantalizing combination of salty and crunchy and spicy, with the richness of the brown butter making everything a bit better.

Perhaps my favorite dish this evening was the rabbit,

which was a riff on a Provencal stew but with local rabbit and some Carolina Gold rice beneath the meat.  As the chefs meant it to do, it was a perfect transition dish, one that highlights the end of cold days and the transition to warmer ones.

The weakest course tonight was the dessert, which used many flavors of carrots supporting a scoop of cardamom ice cream--and I liked it so much I almost licked my bowl clean.  At most places, it would have been the strongest dish.

Counter 3 . FIVE . VII is a world-class restaurant that you should visit if you can.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Veracruz All Natural

started as a food truck but has grown to a few trucks and a physical location.  Veracruz has earned a reputation for delicious tacos and tortas, which they make with fresh ingredients.  When I realized they had a storefront just down the street from my hotel, I had to try them.

Click an image to see a larger version.

The setting is simple, the dining room warm and small.  I ordered one each of all three tacos, because the folks making them assured me that was a reasonable order (it was).

The marinated chicken was moist and flavorful, the steak perfectly grilled, and my favorite, the el pastor, rich with flavor.  I recommend all of them.

Dessert took me a short drive away to my traditional Amy's location at the Arboretum.

Tacos for dinner and ice cream for dessert:  however long a day might be, it's hard to complain about it ending that way.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Down Austin way

I headed to Austin this morning, so wake-up came entirely too early after entirely too little sleep.

No upgrades for me today.  Instead, I enjoyed the usual over-sold planes.  I can't complain, though, because I had exit-row, aisle seats on both legs.

In the Austin airport, the two of us on this trip spotted a new (to us) flavor at the AUS Amy's:  honey graham.  Purely for the good of others, we split an Amy's "tiny" cup of this flavor.  It was amazing.  Amy's does honey in ice cream superbly.

In an unexpected and pleasant turn, the hotel at which I stay on almost all of these trips, the Marriott Round Rock, broke a long string of failures at getting me extra pillows with a bit of flourish:

Click an image to see a larger version.

Yes, not only did they give me two extra pillows, they also left a small welcome basket.  For the first time in ages, I'll be able to complete a post-stay survey in complimentary fashion.

Dinner took us to the Cooper's BBQ here in Austin.  It continues to deliver the second-best brisket (after Franklin's) that I've ever tasted.  We reduced our order from our last visit, but it still proved to be too much.

Dessert was, as per my tradition, at a nearby Amy's.

Tomorrow morning, the meetings begin!


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