Wednesday, August 30, 2006

food: tastiest mushrooms ever

I hadn't eaten a memorable meal in ages, since some toasted gnocchi a year ago. Another pasta, another fish, some fresh vegetables on the side, a novel sushi combination, yadda yadda. Have I become hopelessly jaded?

Or maybe most restaurants don't work hard enough. We returned to Millenium Restaurant for a sensational meal.

Orange Glazed Exotic Mushrooms
toasted crostini, herbed lemon pesto, cherry tomatoes

sounds like any other bruschetta-type appetizer, but those were by far the best mushrooms I have ever tasted.

Blackberry BBQ Tempeh
warm roasted corn, sweet pepper & brown rice salad, orange vinaigrette, ginger cucumber pickle, toasted pecans

was exquisitely tasty. I sat there for an hour grinning like an idiot making subvocal grunting noises (a habit I picked up from one of our dogs, it's his version of purring). My significant partner other domestic had a crazy dessert of avocado and red Hawaiian salt and lemon zests that tasted like nothing else. Millenium's chef Eric Tucker is operating on a higher plane than a merely fine restaurant. And it's a vegan restaurant.

I shouldn't be surprised, years ago at Millenium's old location I had a warm chocolate cake that brought tears to my eyes.

Like skiing without the effort.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

design: flaccid plastic knob failure

bad design
Design without engineering is bad design, and there's a lot of it out there. This Casabella Grook Holdr is a lovely-looking tool holder made of rubber and an aluminum extrusion. You can slide handles through the rubber rings and hang things on the hooks molded into the same rubber. Except, the hooks are made out of rubber. Hang anything substantial on them such as a mop or rake and they sag, and pull the ring down. The rubber needs a stiff rod in it to keep it erect.

I wonder if Amazon will censor my review. (I waited my whole life to say it)

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Monday, August 21, 2006

books: more books

Norman Foster, A Global Architecture, Martin Pawley 3.5 stars
A manageable reference to the works of the master, I read it for inspiration after a bad day.
ISBN 0-500-28123-8

In the Shadow of No Towers, Art Spiegelman 3 stars
Feeling-more-than-thinking about 9/11. Trying to make sense of it through earlier "golden age" comics almost makes sense.
ISBN 0375423079

The Broker, John Gresham 2 stars
The author obviously studied Italian in Bologna, then made a plotless tension-less book from his stay. All the secret agents converge on the protagonist for a wham-bang showdown, but since he didn't experience one in real life, he lacks the imagination to write it.
ISBN 0385340540

, stars


More to come if I can remember them all
  • all the Harry Potters (Prisoner of Azkaban still the best though Half-Blood Prince has a really well-written ending)
  • nearly everything by John Irving (my favorites are The Cider House Rules with its explosion of possibilities and the power of A Prayer for Owen Meany)

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books: Persuasion by Jane Austen

I've read and enjoyed a few books from the Spice Girls of British lit, Charlotte and Emily Brontë and George Eliot, but nothing by Jane Austen. So I enjoyed Clueless (best adaptation ever?), Sense and Sensibility (I would have shot my TV if Emma Thompson had not won an Oscar for her screenplay), and many other movies and series tailored from her novels, without comparison to the originals.

I finally read one, Persuasion. Wow. So perfectly droll, so deftly sketched. She puts simple ideas about her characters in your head, then in later asides touches on them and you burst out laughing. She's not setting up punchlines that whack you over the head, she's planting seeds that flower at her touch for effortless hilarity or emotional richness. For example, after the superficial Sir Walter rents Kellynch Hall, his tenant remarks
I have done very little besides sending away some of the large
looking-glasses from my dressing-room
some. Jane, you crack me up! And this masterpiece is out of copyright hell, so you can read it for free online and in various open e-book formats.

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books: recent books

I lost my notebook wherein I've written book reports since I was in school. I should somehow share these with Amazon. Meanwhile...
Temples of Sound, Jim Cogan and William Clark 2 stars
Semi-coffee table book about the great recording studios. It's inconsistent and badly organized and not very detailed, but still evocative.
ISBN 0-8118-3394-1

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers 4 stars
He comes close on the second part, but all the meta-fiction games (starting with the copyright page — he even tells you "Matter of fact, the first three or four chapters are all some of you might want to bother with" in the 45 pages of introductory remarks) distance the "heartbreak" part.
ISBN 0-375-72578-4

The Ebony Tower, John Fowles 3 stars
The setting is so over the top but he's obviously stood in the corridor outside a love object's closed door, convulsed in a paroxysm of anger, despair, longing, lust, and self-hatred. Heck, who hasn't!

I didn't realize it was one story in a collection, so I was feverishly hoping to see what would happen in part 2 when it ended for good.
ISBN 0-316-29093-9

Digital Fortress, Dan Brown 1 stars
Lame, technically wrong, low-thrills cardboard effort from the Da Vinci Code author. The tiny chapters endlessly jump-cutting between the two locations is tiresome.
ISBN 0-312-99542-3

Gridiron, Philip Kerr 2 stars
Similar to Digital Fortress, another computer out of control but now it's in a prima donna architect's new building. Slightly less cardboard characters, but the malevolent computer is a weak HAL and there's little thrill.
ISBN 0-0995-9431-5

The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown 4 stars
The blockbluster, unlike the English press I'm not going to kick it when it's up. It trots along, I solved half the puzzles as I read, the historical Christianity lectures aren't too pedantic.
ISBN 0385504209

Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro 3.5 stars
Simple fiction from the Remains of the Day author (whose Britishness emphasizes the cultural similarities with Japan), but as you and they understand their predicament the story gains power and melancholy. Hard to believe it takes the protagonists years to figure it out.
ISBN 1-4000-7877-6

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