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Found 22 results

  1. I'm going to use this opportunity to sneak in a recommendation for Rush, the only racing movie I've ever actually liked*. Although the writers played with some historical facts regarding the main characters**, the racing sequences are spot-on accurate and totally believable -none of this "can they really do that?!" Hollywood special effects bs. And, the racing sequences are mercifully short and serve to further the story, which is about a rivalry between two men. It's not a paean to F1 (that's a compliment, and it comes from an F1 fan). *aside from Senna, but that's a documentary **example: the reporter really was beaten up but no one ever found out who actually did it
  2. Too awesome not to share (play this for someone blind sometime - they'll *never* guess who it is). This is actually from 1959, not 1962:
  3. I began watching Season One of "Orange Is the New Black," because I'm so culturally deficient that I'm clueless when it comes to certain popular things - I'm currently on Episode 3. I like this series very much, and I'm glad I'm watching it. Has anyone seen (and remember) the early episodes of Season One? In particular, "I Wasn't Ready," "Tit Punch," and "Lesbian Request Denied" (episodes 1-3). Not sure how far I'll make it through the series (I just watched SE1 EP1 of "The Andy Griffith Show," for Pete's sake), but it's been a fun ride so far.
  4. I saw this fine biography for the first time last night, and can recommend it wholeheartedly. Parts of it are dramatized (Pee Wee Reese's hug, Enos Slaughter's spiking, etc.), but for the most part, it's accurate and absolutely based in truth. There's something I've been meaning to write here for the past ten-or-so years, and this is as good a place as any (although I may have written it before). When the Rickey was named as DC's "official" drink in 2008, I wrote Chantal Tseng, and encouraged her to make a classic Rickey with a twig in it (perhaps a twig of Rosemary, or Thyme, or maybe just a Kukicha tea stick). I suggested that she make it "her own" drink, and call it the Branch Rickey - an idea that, to this very day, I *love*. She wrote me back and thought it was clever, but never ran with the idea. Many years ago, Derek Brown started a thread called "Creating The Don Rockwell Cocktail," and I thought it would be nice to have Champagne with a splash of Cognac, but I like the idea of the "Branch Rickey" even more - not just because it's a clever name (though I *love* the name), but because I think it would work very well as a cocktail. So, who in town is going to make "the Don Rockwell Cocktail": the Branch Rickey? NB - To those who don't know what a hero Branch Rickey is: If there had been no Branch Rickey, there would have been no Jackie Robinson. I won't say he's as important as Abraham Lincoln, but I can't name five white people who have done more to advance the cause of racial equality than Branch Rickey - I'm not even sure I can name two.
  5. Considering their relative lack of big-name talent over the decades, the Astros have one of the most interesting *team* histories in all of baseball: * From 1888-1961, the only professional baseball in Houston was the Minor League Houston Buffaloes - a (mostlly) Texas League team affiliated (mostly) with the St. Louis Cardinals * They began their life as the Houston Colt .45s (after a "neam the team" contest - the Colt .45 was "the gun that won the West"). Their National League counterparts were the expansion New York Mets, and the two teams alternated draft picks from unprotected players from other Major League teams. * Several Houston Buffaloes personnel were allowed to continue working for the Astros, and some of the players made the team as well. * The Colt .45s played in the temporary Colt Stadium - very impressive for a structure meant to last three years. * In 1963, they picked up Rusty Staub and Joe Morgan. Incidentally, Staub is a known connoisseur of fine wine. * In 1965, they became the Astros (Houston being the "space capital" of the U.S.), and began playing in the "8th wonder of the world," the Astrodome. * There's plenty more about their history on Wikipedia - it's an interesting read if you're a baseball fan.
  6. I had two criteria for a film to watch: 1) Something Oscar-worthy (don't worry, hardcore film fans - I do not take the Academy seriously; I'm just using it as a rough guide - this is probably as annoying to you as it is for me to see people blogging about eating their way through such-and-such's list of "the 50 best restaurants" - trust me, I know how you feel, and 2) Something with which I was completely unfamiliar: "Dallas Buyers Club" fits the bill on both counts, and as of this moment, I know absolutely *nothing* about it. And here I go ... *** SPOILER ALERT *** Wow, it's amazing that I'm just over 1/3 of the way through the film, and Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is essentially gone from this Earth - I cannot imagine what awaits during the second-half of this film. I can already tell that Matthew McConaughey either won or was nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award, but I'm not looking - he is amazingly convincing in his role: He must have lost over fifty pounds to play this part unless they're being extremely clever with makeup and body doubles. I'm now halfway through, and I really like this film - people who didn't have to suffer through their friends and family dying of AIDS aren't going to feel the resonance as much as people who did, but boy, I can imagine *exactly* what you felt watching this. If anyone would have asked me, "What is AZT?" before this movie started, it would have sounded familiar, but I wouldn't have been able to link it - that's like someone unfamiliar with cancer not being able to link platinum-based chemo, and this is - to put it mildly - a good refresher course of what I heard and read about in my mid-20s. Refresher course or not, there is a *zero*-percent chance that Ron could strong-arm T.J. (Kevin Rankin) for as hard or as long as he did in the grocery store. That was so distressingly unrealistic. Possible correction: I watched it a second time, and I think Ron might be grabbing T.J.'s doo-dads, which would explain things. And I *love* the friendship with Rayon (Jared Leto), and this reminds me of what turned out to be one of the most powerful subplots on "All in the Family" - the Bunker's long-lasting friendship with Beverly LaSalle. Okay, the sex scene was runner-up to "When Harry Met Sally." The moment that Denise (Denine Tyler, who's in the process of becoming famous as hell) tells Ron that the woman out in line 'doesn't have HIV; she has full-blown AIDS,' and then not ten seconds later you hear the most honorable and hilarious moaning coming from the bathroom - this is the take-home comic scene from the movie: He has sex with her because he finds out that she *does* have full-blown AIDS. Lemme tell you - humor aside, it is *so* difficult for me to watch this movie now, knowing what I know, and living what I've lived. When I was watching it "live" in the mid-1980s, I was watching it from a white, upper-middle-class, suburban, perspective: in other words, The Washington Post, the three networks, channel 5 and channel 20 - and that's the entirety of what I knew. (People who were immersed in the situation: Think about what I just said - it was like hearing about Watergate 10-15 years before ... it was this boring news story about something that was happening somewhere else, although even with that viewpoint, it was very easy (and very hard) to see the misery of the patients.) Remember Sergeant Leonard Matlovich's Time Magazine cover? "I am a homosexual." - do you remember that? That's the *only* article I remember. I wonder if Matlovich is looked upon as an unqualified hero, as a mixed-figure like Shannon Faulkner, or as something other than those two?
  7. This is sparked by a thread in the help wanted forum. This thread will report on dates for restaurant openings. Opening dates may be for soft openings.
  8. Steve Cutts' home page is here - I'm not sure of his birth year. I generally don't condone political discussions here, but sometimes art, by its very nature, is political - all opinions are welcome.
  9. "Particle Fever" is perfect for people who have heard of the Large Hadron Collider and the Higgs Boson Particle, but don't know why they're important, or have any idea about the mathematics behind them. Its target audience is "intelligent laymen," and the documentary is not condescending (well, maybe in parts, but in general, no). You will walk away from this 100-minute film with a conversational understanding of both the collider and the boson, and will get to live through the same thrill the scientists lived through while "confirming its existence." It really is quite an exciting ride. Along the way, you'll meet people who seem like you and me, but are, in reality, some of the top scientists in their fields - the type of people who get nominated for Nobel Prizes, and at no time will you be bored. It is said that hiring Walter Murch to be the film's editor really made it stand apart from generic documentaries - he brought just enough of Hollywood into it that it's suspenseful. This should be shown in every high school in the country, so students can have a basic understanding of these important concepts. You won't regret investing the time watching it. SPOILER ALERT One of the most poignant moments of the film is seing Peter Higgs (of the Higgs Boson) tearing up as it looks like his particle - which he theorized in 1964 (fifty years ago!) being all-but confirmed in a second, independent measurement. Higgs won the Nobel Prize for Science later in 2013 for this confirmation. It should be mentioned, however, that there are criticisms of the Standard Model, and here is one particularly hostile put-down of the model by gadfly-crank, Alexander Unzicker. I do not know enough theoretical physics to voice an opinion on whether this man is just an angry quack, or if he makes some valid points (I suspect it's a little of both - the Standard Model and some of its offshoots is ridiculous in its complexity, and it *does* seem like physicists these days are designing experiments around theories, instead of vice-versa).
  10. "Happy" by Pharrell Williams is one of those songs I'll quickly consider to be an earworm, but not yet; right now, I consider it a personal momento of an old friend who makes me happy - think about this as a "To Whom Are You Drinking Right Now" post. The accompanying video - 4 minutes long, but repeated over-and-over, lasting *24 hours* in duration - can be found at 24hoursofhappy.com. It's an interesting concept that I don't think is meant for listening until completion (*). I like that such a cheerful song is performed in the (normally) sad key of F-Minor. "Happy" will also be released on Williams' second studio album in 2014. (*) Although ...
  11. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed "The Ghost Army" (2013), a PBS documentary about a unit of artists (yes, artists) that were used to misdirect German soldiers in France to great success. This is right at the level where I like my leisure stories to be: informative, yet not too heavy. I learned *so much* from this great documentary which covers D-Day, The Battle Of The Bulge, and the first major crossing of the Rhine into Germany. If I weren't running this website full-time, I would very much like to be a Ken Burns - not exactly Ken Burns, but someone who takes a complex, boring, drawn-out subject, and presents it as simple candy for the masses. I'd like to think this could be my calling in life - there's a legend that Einstein said, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well," and this resonates so much with me. This 68-minute documentary is light entertainment while at the same time being of the utmost gravity. You can watch it superficially and enjoy it as such, or, you can do what I did: get so deep into it, that you decide to create an acronym for the hierarchical ranks within an army for immediate future recall: A CD BRoadens Really Basic, Common, PLastic SQuelches Army Corps Division BRigade Regiment Bataillion Company PLatoon SQuadron (Note that all three words beginning with two consonants are the same in both which should help with ambiguity.) Our Army deserves you committing these basic terms to memory, so do it. It'll take you two minutes, and you'll be able to instantly recall them for the rest of your lives. Back to the documentary. Just watch it. It's free for Amazon Prime members, it's one hour out of your life, and you'll be instructed about WWII history while being delightfully entertained. (Who was it that said the chief end of literature was "to instruct and delight?" I can never remember that.
  12. Ivan Locke gets into a car at a remote location and begins driving toward London, a 90-minute drive from where he starts. The entire film unfolds in his car as he places and answers dozens of calls over those 90 minutes. He is a man of incredible integrity and, as a result, he blows up his entire life during that drive. He is someone who is accustomed to being in charge and controlling everything that happens around him. He assumes that he can continue doing so, and it is fascinating to watch him try, while it becomes increasingly evident that he cannot do so in the face of these events. It's a harrowing, roller coaster ride for the viewer. The end of the film leaves the story unfinished and that felt exactly right. We left the theater feeling stunned and as if we ourselves had driven that car for 90 minutes down that highway. This generated the most conversation we have had about a film in a long time. FIVE STARS.
  13. A bit late for local theaters--today was the last day in the last DC area theater, in Fairfax. but this film is bound to come up on Netflix, On Demand etc. and is really worth watching. A brilliant design and video technology geek develops an obsession with figuring out and recreating how Johannes Vermeer was able to paint photo-realistic paintings in the 17th century. Amazing, gripping, and entertaining.
  14. Here is Draft Magazine's 2013 Top 25 Beers of the Year. Here is Wine Enthusiast's Top 25 Beers. Since this is presented as a buying guide, the one-offs aren't as prevalent, but regionals like New Glarus and Deschutes are very highly regarded. I don't really rank things when I try them, so I have no personal best beers of the year. But looking back through the VBT, which is a good online record, I think I'll pick up some more Troegnator once my fridge is empty. Please chime in with any best of lists, either published or person, that you might have!
  15. No doubt that Star Wars was a seminal film and the very embodiment of space opera, but it was also the start of a long downward spiral wherein "science fiction" [in film, not literature] became synonymous with "action adventure". As someone who loved classic "hard sf", the literature of "what if...?" - of possiblities that sometimes came to pass, like radar or communications satellites in geosynchronous orbits - I really came to resent this conflation of two genres. I mean really, do we need to see Captain Kirk dangling one-handed from a precipice three times in a single film? Oy. So then comes along a little film that gets hardly any notice when released, a film shot on a small budget on a soundlot in Brooklyn in a short period of time, a film whose producers hired experts from NASA and JPL in order to get all the details right, a film that's about the science even though the plot says "thriller", a film whose special effects serve to reinforce the plausibility of the whole damn thing... Europa Report is one of the most beautiful and realistic science fiction films ever made. Some people are tired of "found footage" plot devices, but in this film it is an incredibly effective way of telling the story. I especially loved the entirely appropriate sense of claustrophobia resulting from all the fixed-camera shots on the spacecraft. (Not since Rear Window...) Must have been especially challenging for the actors and directors to work around that limitation. (Very Minor Spoiler Follows) What is the story? In the very near future, a private company funds a manned mission to Europa to research the possibility that life may exist below the icy surface. Before the ship reaches its destination something goes wrong and communication with Earth is lost, but the crew continue their mission. And afterwards we get a look at that mission, documentary-style. I don't want to say more. It is a thriller, after all. But it is also good, old-fashioned hard-core science fiction. Almost every little detail of the film is entirely plausible (hydrazine as thruster fuel? yes, there's a paper on it, I checked), though at the moment it's driving me crazy that I can't remember if there was sound in space. It's possible that the way they used the "found footage" it was never actually relevant. Now available on Netflix. Trailer here. (If you're interested in what's involved in long-term manned space expeditions, read Packing for Mars by Mary Roach.)
  16. This is one of the bottles that Joe Riley selected for me, and it's a fascinating whiskey, supplemented by an even more fascinating backstory. Whether it's true or not will be left up to the reader. I'll just quote straight from the canister: "Introducing our small batch blend of Bourbon and Rye Whiskies"¦. The batch we never intended. With just one taste our Associate Master Distiller, Eddie Russell, knew their mistake was more a master stroke. Because it married the very best qualities of our robust Rye whiskey and a fine Bourbon: vanilla, oaky taste pointing perfectly towards a cinnamon, clove, and pepper finish. Aged, of course, in our No. 4 alligator charred barrels - something we'd never leave to chance." And on the other side: "When our Distillery's crew unwittingly mingled a very rare, high proof Rye with perfectly aged Bourbon, our Associate Master Distiller discovered they had created something exceptional: a whiskey blend that's big, bold and spicy, yet exceptionally smooth. Needless to say all was forgiven." The whiskey is exactly as advertised - you can distinguish the Rye, you can distinguish the Bourbon, and you can enjoy the blend: it is indeed big, bold, spicy, and smooth - definitely mellowed from some age. My only question: is the backstory bullshit? I've also looked into the two spellings: whisky, and whiskey. Here is an interesting post explaining the difference (worth reading if you're curious about such a thing). An excerpt:
  17. *** Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare, Daniel, Eleven Madison Park, Jean Georges, Le Bernardin, Masa and Per Se ** Artera, Corton, Gilt, Gordon Ramsay at the London, Marea, Momofuku Ko and Soto
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