Saturday, June 10, 2017

The world's greatest dog turns 14

That title is sure to incite debate among the many people who own dogs they consider the greatest, but for me, Holden is, has been, and always will be the world's greatest dog.  Today, he and his siblings, Shibori and Pixil, turned 14.

Click an image to see a larger version.

As you can tell, he did not treat the occasion with any excitement. For him, it was just another day.

If that yawn contains any emotion at all, it's one of mild annoyance.

Still, he remained his usual contemplative self, pondering life's big questions from a perch on one of his many pillows scattered around the house.

The promise of treats was enough to stir him from his usual languor and capture his full attention.

He is nothing but focused when it comes to carb-based treats.

He is and always has been a carb hound, but his figure remains trim and at the same weight since he was about two.

Holden is already older than is typical for his size, but I cannot help but hope for many more years of pain-free, slow, treat-filled life for him. I love him more than I have ever loved any pet, and when death finally takes him, it will wreck me utterly.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Why can't anyone around here make Texas-class barbecue brisket?

The Triangle area is full of restaurants that cook great barbecue--as long as you define barbecue as being pulled pork. Now, don't get me wrong: I love pulled pork barbecue. Sometimes, though, I want barbecue brisket. When I do, I have to wait to go to Texas, because so far I have not found a single restaurant in the Triangle area that serves barbecue brisket that is as good as the worst brisket I've had in Austin.

Why is that?

The technology involved isn't hard: rub the brisket with salt and pepper, cook the brisket over smoke low and slow, and you'll get something good.

Instead, all the brisket I've had in the Triangle is cooked until it's dry and usually fat-free; great brisket needs some fat.

I've tried every place that someone has told me made great brisket. If you have a favorite barbecue brisket place in the area, please write and let me know. In the meantime, I'll look forward to my next trip to Austin (which, as happy coincidence would have it, is Monday).

Thursday, June 8, 2017


A while back, I wrote an entry about whether my loyalty to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson would be enough to overcome my common sense and lead me to see the new Baywatch movie.

It was.

I went.

Everything after that is tricky. On the one hand, I didn't groan or cringe as much as I had feared I would, and I laughed more than I had feared I might, so the movie beat my expectations. On the other hand, my expectations were astonishingly low.

Almost all of the funniest bits, of course, come from Johnson. His timing has greatly improved over the years, and he can keep a straight face while saying almost anything. The rest of the cast played off him reasonably well, given the story they had to inhabit and the lines they had to say. Both of those, though, were weak at almost all points, and very weak at many times.

I went to a local theater on discount night to catch Baywatch, and that's probably the right strategy. If you can get in cheaply, and if you're willing to trade a lot of bad bits for periodic laughs, and, of course, if you like staring at pretty people in bathing suits, check it out. Otherwise, give this one a pass.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

How can you tell my beach vacation is coming?

One sure sign is the influx of high-quality films on Blu-Ray and DVD that hits my house. Sitting on tap right now, for example, are three fine action discs.

In the first, Jean Claude proves he's not ready yet to stop working.

Oh, yeah:  nothing but hospital mayhem.

Michelle Rodriguez clearly needs work between Fast flicks, and Sigourney Weaver leaves no doubt that she will act in anything for money, by joining forces in this next gem.

Transfolks, I mean no hate or disrespect here; I just won't miss a Michelle Rodriguez movie.

Finally, somewhere there was a meeting, a pitch meeting, in which someone said, "Bloodsport, but with women," and this movie was born.

Yup, I hope to watch 'em all at the beach.

Unless he's already seen them, Kyle is likely to be right there with me, and maybe Scott, too.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Delta Rae keeps getting better and better

Saturday night, the band stopped by the Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill as part of their tour in support of their EP, A Long and Happy Life. The show sold out, and people packed the joint even for the opener, Lauren Jenkins. (I enjoyed her music, but I'm not sure I'll seek it out again.) When the band took the stage, the place went crazy, and the musicians responded by noting that they were home--and then putting on the best show of theirs that I've yet seen.

They sang all the songs on their EP and a selection of familiar hits. I was particularly happy to get to hear them perform "Run," a long-time favorite of mine, but I enjoyed every single tune.

I honestly don't know why this band isn't selling out arenas; to me, they are just that good.

I can tell you that you are missing something wonderful if you don't take every opportunity to see them perform.

Delta Rae will be back in the area, this time at the Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh, on August 26.

I already have tickets.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Wonder Woman is a joy you should not miss

Yes, I'm another of the many people who are telling you that Wonder Woman is a movie you should not miss, but that's only because we're all correct. The movie is wonderful.

Gal Gadot is everything one could hope for in a hero greeting a brave new world: virtuous, naive when appropriate but learning as she goes, and increasingly powerful as she comes to understand herself and her capabilities. She is also the most inspirational screen superhero in a long time. In one scene, when others are willing to let the horrors around them continue because the odds against them are too great, she is not, and her charge into the fray is one of the most inspiring moments in recent films. I wish I'd had this movie to show Sarah when she was a little girl.

Director Patty Jenkins delivers the goods, too, with strong pacing and generally good use of special effects.

The movie is not without flaws. It suffers from the CG over-indulgences that plague most final battles, and a few bits of humor felt forced. These are minor quibbles, though, in a movie that had me both cheering and tearing up at multiple occasions.

Go see Wonder Woman.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

UFC 212 predictions: how I fared

I went 1-1 in my predictions for last night's UFC card.

I started out with a bang by correctly calling Claudia Gadelha to beat Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the co-main event. I said the fight would be exciting in the beginning, and it was, as Gadelha foolishly chose to stand and strike with Kowalkiewicz. Kowalkiewicz predictably was out-pointing Gadelha with strikes that were landing but not doing any damage. After a couple of minutes, though, Gadelha took down Kowalkiewicz, and that was that: in no time Gadelha sunk in a choke, and Kowalkiewicz tapped out.

The first round of the main event played out as I predicted, with Jose Aldo taking some time to size up Max Holloway and then picking apart the younger man. The second round was similar, though Holloway definitely improved. In the third round, though, Holloway was visibly in better shape and faster, and he began catching Aldo. In time, he knocked down the champ and hit him with a serious ground-and-pound battering. Eventually, Aldo was doing nothing to protect himself except turtling up, and the ref called the fight. Max Holloway delivered on every promise he'd made and in the process became the new, undisputed featherweight champion.

So, after three tries at this game, I'm 5-1, which isn't bad, but it's also less impressive than it looks, because I'm picking only the top fights in each card. Perhaps next time, I'll choose more fights.


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