Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Hologram for the King

With this weekend's lackluster openings not enough of a temptation to drag me from my house the night before I begin a two-week trip, tonight's movie was the Blu-ray pressing of this recent film.  I'd missed it in the theaters and had wanted to see it, so it was an easy choice.

I enjoyed it quite a bit, primarily because at almost no point was I sure what was going to happen next.  The plot moved in a relatively reasonable fashion, but it contained enough oddities and grace notes to make the ride worthwhile.

I said "relatively reasonable" because a great many of Tom Hanks' actions in this one would probably have gotten him kicked out of Saudi Arabia or even killed.  As with most movies these days, in this one at multiple occasions you had to suspend your reality filters and go along with it, or you would break your suspension of disbelief beyond repair.

If you haven't seen the movie, I don't want to tell you the plot, and I encourage you not to check it in advance.  Just turn on the movie and let it wash over you.  It's worth the time.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Though there is no way Bad Santa 2 can be as good as the original

I absolutely will be there on opening weekend.  In fact, I'll probably watch the original right before I go see it.

How can you resist a movie with this trailer?

Warning:  This is a red band trailer full of foul language and gross stuff, so don't play it if you don't want to see that sort of thing.

If the basic premise alone is not enough, did you notice that Christina Hendricks, whom I absolutely adore, is in this movie?

I am so there.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Two years from now, I want to be in New Orleans

and I want you to help make sure I get to go.  Specifically, I hope in late August of 2018 to be flying into New Orleans for that year's World Science Fiction Convention.  You can read more about the bid here.

Running against New Orleans--committees from each city mount bids on which SF fans vote--is a group from San Jose.  Their bid info is here.  These are perfectly fine folks, and San Jose is a perfectly fine place, but it's not New Orleans.  It's not even close.

I've written about this situation before, but now we're coming down to the wire.  If enough people don't buy a membership (supporting or attending) to this year's WorldCon and vote for the 2018 con to be in New Orleans, we could face the specter of another con in San Jose.  I could face that fate, and I'd much, much, much rather be in New Orleans.

Really, who wouldn't?

At next week's WorldCon in Kansas City, I'll spend some time hanging out in the New Orleans party at the convention center.  Please come by, see me, meet the fine folks behind the con, and vote for the Big Easy.

Let's send the WorldCon back to New Orleans in 2018!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Stand By Me, 30 years on

I thought about this movie today after stumbling for no good reason onto this post of Wil Wheaton's about the 25th anniversary of the film--a post that is quite good and which I recommend reading.  I remember entering the theater with very low expectations for the movie, feeling it win me over, and then being absolutely delighted and bowled over by the ending.

And then, of course, there's the song.  I love and have blogged the John Lennon cover, but tonight it has to be the Ben E. King original.

This weekend is a new-movie wasteland, so it might be time to do a back-to-the-eighties double feature at home.  It just might.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Trump's Second Amendment comment is not a joke

It is a horrifying reminder both of the kind of person he is and of how unsuited he is to President of these United States.  In case you missed it, here's a CNN bit on this latest bit of Trump horror.

If the video doesn't play for you, here's the transcript of the relevant text:

"Hillary wants to abolish -- essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know."
As the video above shows, the Trump campaign is trying to explain that Trump was referring only to voting, but that's clearly bullshit.  If you or I were to make a comment like that about a candidate for President and the Secret Service heard about it, we would be in a world of trouble.

Don't believe me?  CNN reported here the following:
'The former head of the CIA, retired Gen. Michael Hayden, told CNN's Jake Tapper: "If someone else had said that said outside the hall, he'd be in the back of a police wagon now with the Secret Service questioning him."'
I know a lot of people who despise Clinton; that's their right.  With every passing day, though, we gain more proof--as if we needed more--that Trump is not only not fit to be President, he is also a dangerous man we should not trust with any elected office, much less the highest in our land.

The only way to make sure Trump does not win the election is to vote for Clinton.  We have only one sensible path here.  Take it.  Stop Trump.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Want to read a new essay I've just completed?

I certainly hope you do.  You should; it's interesting and argues a very particular thesis.

To read it, though, you have to attend this year's World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, OH, because the essay will be in the con's program book.

Keep an eye out for it!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Piedmont Restaurant returns to my list

For quite a few years, most of them with its original owners, Piedmont Restaurant occupied a regular spot on my local list.  I dined there often and always left happy I had.  Then, under the current ownership and with a variety of chefs, its food quality descended so far that, after a genuinely bad meal there a couple (or so) years ago, I wrote it off and haven't been back.

Until I learned that John May, formerly the sous chef of Vivian Howard's Chef and the Farmer in Kinston, had come on board as the new chef.  After waiting a bit for him to make the place his own, I returned with a group this past weekend.

On balance, I'm happy to report that the food is good enough that I look forward to returning when the seasons change.

The menu uses the now common modern trick of mostly naming ingredients and leaving you to wonder how the chef will use them.  The approach is getting a bit tired, but I'm generally fine with it, as I was here.

Click an image to see a larger version.

I opted to start with the rocket robiola, which proved to be an absolutely delightful mix of robiola cheese and sweet peaches.

The curry powder offset the richness with a bit of tang, enough to be tasty but not so much as to be overpowering.

For my main, I went with an item that replaced the ribeye on the menu:  a short rib combo with the same potatoes and greens as the ribeye.

The potatoes were flawless, soft and smoky and delicious.  The greens were a tad bitter but good enough that I ate them.  The garlic chips were great.  The short rib itself was quite tasty, but they left on too much fat and, despite the sous vide preparation, didn't make the meat as tender as it should have been.

The dessert menu featured four options, most of them interesting to me.

Wanting to keep it light, I chose the peach sorbet.

Smooth and delicious and not too sweet, it was definitely a winner.

I tasted a bit of lamb tartare that another person in our group had ordered, and it was, frankly, a mess.  It tasted okay, but whoever prepared it appeared to have used either a food processor or a dull knife, because instead of being perfectly minced, the meat was almost bruised.

Across all the dishes, the vegetables shined, while the meat was just not quite at the same level.  May needs to work with his team on the land proteins.

Piedmont is not in the top tier of Triangle restaurants, but the food is good enough that, as I said, I will go back.


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