Saturday, January 28, 2017

Now more than ever

we need it, and we need to not underestimate its power.

What am I talking about?

Let me have Elvis Costello, singing Nick Lowe's great song, clarify.

The answer to his question is simple:  nothing.

We have to start somewhere to build a better world.  Call me an aging hippy if you will, but we could do a lot worse than to start with peace, love, and understanding.

Friday, January 27, 2017

So about the new Resident Evil movie

Either you know about this movie and are already at least vaguely interested, or it's news to you, in which case I'm not going to try to talk you into it.  Assuming you're in the former camp, here's the basic scoop:  it's better than the fifth, way better than the awful second, and loosely in the range of the first and the fourth.  (The third retains its standing as the best of the lot.)

Put differently, the action is non-stop and as realistic as ever (read:  not at all), the plot is as sensible as ever (read:  not at all), and Milla Jovovich acts as well as she does in these movies (read:  not well, but passably enough for the role).

I didn't love it, but I had a fun time watching most of it.

If you've seen them all, definitely catch this one.  If you've only seen a few, it's still worth checking out.

If you haven't seen any of them, check out the third.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Doubting Greg Cox

For multiple years, I felt that Greg Cox, the News & Observer's restaurant critic, did a fine job of evaluating local restaurants.  At one point, he even had the guts to make his rating system tougher, because our restaurants had improved, and I applauded the move.

For quite a while now, though, I've found him frequently deeply inaccurate, to the point that I became nervous at the thought of trying a restaurant on his recommendation.

Now, though, he's either gone completely off his nut by picking The Durham as the restaurant of the year, or my experience at that place was a fluke.

I'm honestly hoping for the latter, because my meal there was so mediocre (and worse, for some of our group) that I cannot understand how he can applaud The Durham.  How that place can win restaurant of the year above Panciuto, for example, baffles me.  I've never tasted a dish at Panciuto that was as bad as the best dish I ate at The Durham.

Mr. Cox, I don't know you, but I have to say that you are losing the trust of me and every foodie I know.

I'm now wrestling with whether to give The Durham another shot.  If I do and the meal is as bad as my first experience, I'll be done with reading Cox's reviews, much less trusting them.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Pick up Blue Rodeo's new album, 1000 Arms

I first heard a Blue Rodeo song in a Toronto record store in December, 1987.  I fell instantly and deeply in love with this band and their music.  I've seen them multiple times live and own every single album.  They deserve to be as big in the U.S. as they are in Canada, but they're not.

I picked this song at random from the new album.  Like much of their music, it's country and it's rock, and though this live take isn't as good as the studio version, it's still a lovely piece.

You can buy the album on Amazon and possibly at record stores.  Check it out, and while you're at it, buy Outskirts, their first album and one of my desert island top ten.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A perfect dish

Behold the tuna-foie gras, an Eric Ripert classic that is permanently on the menu at Blue by Eric Ripert.

Click the image to see a larger version.

I've eaten this dish more than a dozen times, and every single bite every single time has been delicious.  It used to be on the Le Bernardin menu as well,  but I've heard it no longer is--but is still available there if you ask.

Nestled under the incredibly thin sheet of tuna is a very thin strip of brioche coated with an even thinner layer of foie.

I cannot conceive of a way to improve this dish.  It is perfect, an amazing set of flavors unlike anything else.

If you ever get a chance to eat it, do so.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Why am I planning to see this sixth Resident Evil movie?

I'm talking about this one, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.

I could give you a lot of reasons, including Milla Jovovich and how insane this series is, but the simplest way to explain my plan is that I've seen all five of the prior films.

Yup.  I'm that big a glutton for Resident Evil punishment.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

xXx: Return of Xander Cage

is a big, dumb hit of fun that has all the strengths and weaknesses you would expect from this third installment in the xXx series.

If you don't know the series, don't worry; you'll be fine, because the film gives you more than enough background.  The basic idea is that a super-secret government agency, led by Samuel L. Jackson, recruits extreme athletes as secret agents.  The first was Xander Cage, Vin Diesel's character.

The first movie was the most fun of the group, because the concept was new and the settings were loud and silly.  This one is a close second.  The forgettable second film is just that, forgettable, but Ice Cube does deliver a few fun silly moments in it.

The strengths are what you see in the trailer:  pretty people, insane stunts, tons of action.  The weaknesses are also what you would guess:  acting and basic storytelling.

If I haven't mentioned it lately, I should note that I try to take each movie for what it is.  If it's a big, dumb, action flick, I settle in to enjoy that.  If it's a nuanced character film, I enjoy that.  I review films in terms of those goals, not by an absolute standard.

As a big, dumb action film, this latest xXx installment isn't stellar, A-class entertainment, but the consensus of the group that saw it with me--a consensus I agree with--is that it was big enough and fun enough to be well worth seeing.  We all had a good time.

I suspect if you approach the movie the same way, you will, too.


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