Saturday, April 25, 2009

Eternal Sunshine

Jean and I used Netflix streaming to watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Man was that a good movie. Rich characters, tough story, imaginative visuals, intricate interlocking puzzle pieces of life. I'm tempted to give it five stars, but I'm holding out now in case a night's sleep makes me change my mind. Very good movie directed Michel Gondry and co-written with Charlie Kaufman.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Run Lola Run

A decade ago Tom told me that this was a good movie. So with Netflix I finally got to watch it. Jean and I both liked it. Thanks Tom!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Duck Stab / Buster and Glen

I already had a best-of for The Residents, but I've nevertheless been curious about this album, which had two or three overlaps, so I grabbed Duck Stab/Buster and Glen this evening. More as I listen to it...

And to wind things up for this allotment of eMusic credits, I decided to get Celebrity Golf, a fifteen minute standup routine by Mike Birbiglia that I first heard on This American Life, mostly so I could inflict it on friends and family.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Moonraker has already piqued my interest. In the first few pages, we get a glimpse of the bureaucratic hierarchy in which James Bond operates. He has an office shared with two other '00's, 008 and 0011, and is the senior '00'. Here are some snippets that give a flavor of his routine between adventures.

He shrugged his shoulders and resolutely opened the top folder [of intelligence reports]...

It was the beginning of a typical routine day for Bond. It was only two or three times a year that an assignment came along requiring his particular abilities. For the rest of the year he had the duties of an easy-going senior civil servant...

He took no holidays, but was generally given a fortnight's leave at the end of each assignment--in addition to any sick-leave that might be necessary... He had a small but comfortable flat off the King's Road, an elderly Scottish housekeeper--a treasure called May--and a 1930 4 1/2-litre Bentley coupe, supercharged .. so that he could do a hundred when he wanted to.

...It was his ambition to have as little as possible in his banking account when he was killed, as, when he was depressed, he knew he would be, before the statutory age of forty-five.

Eight years to go before he was automatically taken off the 00 list and given a staff job at Headquarters. At least eight tough assignments. Probably sixteen. Perhaps twenty-four. Too many.

Those last two segments give us the tidbit that by the time of Moonraker, Bond is around 33 years old, and can look forward to having episodes of torture into his mid-forties.

The chapter closes out with a description of Bond's progress through a pile of memos, ticking them off, initialing them '007' and putting them into the out tray for the next bureaucrat. It really tickles me to see him outside the frame of action. It's like watching Superman relaxing in the Fortress of Solitude with a model kit, or working his taxes on a crummy too-old laptop.

Man Push Cart

Our latest Netflix experiment was Man Push Cart, about a Pakistani immigrant pushing a coffee cart around New York City for a living. It was unrelentingly bleak. Nasty enough that I'm reconsidering watching Chop Shop, which is his other movie, available for direct streaming.

Kung Pao Chicken

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated's recipe for Kung Pao Shrimp, this was a good one!

Clarence "Frogman" Henry

After hearing a mashup featuring Ain't Got No Home (thanks Jean), I had to get the source material, and fortunately eMusic had a best-of. So we're digging it now.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

And Another...

The decade-old solo album by my favorite female vocalist/composer of all time, Kristin Hersh, Sky Motel. God I love her voice!

New Music

Ninja Tour, a sampler of songs from the bands touring with NIN this year.

Blue Rondo, a very nice Dave Brubeck album.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Live and Let Die

I just finished Live and Let Die a few days ago. I've read quite a few Ian Fleming novels over the years, but at least a decade has passed since I last read one, so I've gotten the urge to read them all in chronological order. As already noted, I'd finished Casino Royale and enjoyed it quite a bit. It's been long enough, that with my memory, each book seems quite new.

I found a review on Amazon for Live and Let Die that contained the following snippet:

I would rank "Live and Let Die" in the second-tier of Bond novels, along with "From Russia, With Love" and "Moonraker." It doesn't quite reach the level of such absolute masterpieces as "Doctor No," "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," or "You Only Live Twice," but it's certainly superior to such relatively weak entries as "Goldfinger," "Casino Royale," and the disastrous "The Man with the Golden Gun." All in all, a classic Bond thriller.

I have to agree with A. E. Kaiser that Live and Let Die is a better book than Casino Royale. CR is not a bad book, by any measure I'm willing to apply. It's just that by the second novel, Fleming's already begun to get a much more three-dimensional brush stroke for his character and the world in which he maneuvers.

Seeing as how the next book in the sequence is Moonraker, which A. E. Kaiser puts into the second tier, I'm quite anxious to get started! And given that I can apparently identify the movie version of Doctor No in three notes, I'm not sure I want to wait for that 'absolute masterpiece' to roll around in the chronological sequence. But of the two intervening novels (Diamonds Are Forever and From Russia, With Love), the second is also in the second tier, so I'll struggle to hang on.


Bosstopus Several weeks ago Renee and I were imagining a boss monster for an RPG, and came up with Bosstopus! I won't go into the details just yet. I was waiting for Renee to render a larger image, but she's not ready, so I'll just hook this one in to remind me to describe it's attacks later.

New Batch of Photos

A new batch of photos up at Flickr means a new banner photo! This time, the wife and two kitties stand in.


Our Netflix experimental film this weekend was Memento, a film by Christopher Nolan, who went on to reimagine Batman starring Christian Bale. Read the link for a spoiler-laden recap of the film, but suffice it to say that I'll be remembering this movie for some time. Very good.

Mexican Pulled Pork

Recipe was from a 2007 issue of Cook's Illustrated, so of course it's not online. But it was definitely good. This makes two weekends in a row where I've cooked a recipe that required the use of the broiler!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Catching Up

This will be an omnibus post, as I just want to jot down some notes while I think of them.


Jean's been encouraging me to get back into cooking, and this weekend she selected a recipe for me to try. It was from an older copy of Cook's Illustrated, so I can't link to the online recipe (it's behind their paywall). Instead, I'll just include a generic link to Chicken Tikka Masala. We modified the recipe, substituting plain yogurt in the masala sauce for the cream in the recipe. Verdict: definitely very good.


Mid-last-week, I began an experiment with Netflix. I got the minimal subscription, with one DVD at a time. I really wanted to try out their instant streaming, as we are now using Hulu to watch a number of television programs, and I hoped that we might be able to do the same with some movies. I was skeptical, as most posts seemed to complain about quality at higher bandwidths than we get. It turns out that some movies are watchable, but not all.

I tried watching Banlieue 13, a French action movie with a lot of stunts based on parkour. The stream paused and even skipped, every few seconds. This turns out to be a bad thing for a movie filled with physical stunts.

On the other hand, we watched a movie recommended by one of Jean's co-workers, Monsoon Wedding, and it was not too jerky. The movie itself was great.

Finally, our first actual DVD from Netflix arrived this weekend, and we watched it today. It is called Bride & Prejudice and is a Bollywood-style musical based on Jane Austen's novel. It was produced by Indian, British and American companies and was mostly in English. I love musicals, and have a weakness for Bollywood musical romances and comedies, so this was a real treat. Jean seemed to enjoy it too.

Coming up in our queue next will be Memento.