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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Deep Throat

It looks like Deep Throat has finally come forward. I don't know why, but I consider this a really big deal even after all this time. It's one of the great unsolved mysteries (in my lifetime anyway). Recently, I've been feeling that a confluence of certain events is leading to something even bigger. I mean, no more Star Wars, no more Star Trek, Deep Throat is revealed... What's next? Will we finally find out who Carly Simon was writing about in "You're So Vain"?

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Restaurant review: Great Bay

I'm a foodie. I love cooking and eating (well, mostly eating). If I see something on the menu that I've never tried or better yet never even heard of, that's what I'm most likely to choose. My dream is to one day become financially independent enough to stop working for a while and study at one of the culinary institutes like the Cordon Bleu or the CIA. So I figured one good use of this blog would be the occasional food/restaurant review.

In our younger days, my wife and I would eat at restaurants quite a bit. This was in the early 80s when "nouvelle American" was all the rage. Since our son was born, we've had to curtail those activities a bit but when the opportunity arises (like tonight, when my son had a sleepover at a friend's house), we logged on to Open Table to see what was available. We decided on Great Bay in Kenmore Square in Boston.

Great Bay is in the relatively new Hotel Commonwealth. It's a beautiful restaurant in a wide-open space big enough to accommodate enough tables for a hotel restaurant while still ensuring that the tables are spaced far enough apart for an intimate dining experience. We were there on a Sunday night and so it was fairly quiet. I'm not sure what the noise level would be on a busy Saturday evening.

We were immediately brought to our table, which turned out not to be to our liking since it was somewhat close to a service station. The hostess very pleasantly agreed to seat us at another table. Big points for that one. I had my usual Chopin martini, which was perfectly made. For appetizers, my wife had a fresh corn soup and I had a red curry and lobster soup. Both of these were out of this world. The corn soup was sweet and smooth as silk. The curry lobster soup was rich and had just the right amount of kick for me. Some folks might find it a bit on the spicy side. My wife then ordered the golden trout and I had the sea scallops. Both dishes were perfectly done. These might have been the best scallops I've ever had. Perfectly seared on the outside and creamy on the inside. I was in heaven.

One thing on the menu that initially confused us was a reference to a "full island menu" that was available on request. At first we just thought that "island" referred to something from the Caribbean or Hawaii. Turns out that "island" refers to their raw/ceviche bar that is attached to the bar like a kitchen island.

The waitstaff was very attentive and professional and the meal was perfectly paced. This is not an inexpensive restaurant. I'd say that an average dinner for two (excluding drinks, wine, and tip) would come to about $90. Add back in drinks, wine and tip and you're approaching the $200 range. In general, hotel restaurants tend to be a bit more expensive but I'd have to say that this restaurant was well worth it.

Highly recommended.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

There's something in the hair...

My wife, Sha, is of French extraction. Her mother is from Bordeaux and her father was French-Canadian. Both of her parents taught French and spoke French at home, so Sha was raised bilingually. She speaks French just about as well as she speaks English and both with no accent. I've become quite a francophile in the 20+ years I've known my wife and can speak a little French. Not well enough given the 7 years of French I took starting in the 5th grade...

I've always been amused at the inadvertent slips of the tongue that can occur when you're speaking a foreign language. I don't even want to know what silly things I've said when speaking with Sha's relatives.

I also work with two Frenchmen. Sylvain has been in the states for quite a while and speaks English better than I do. Philippe recently moved to the US to work on the same project I do. His English is excellent but sometimes he accidentally says something pretty amusing either because he uses the wrong word or phrase or pronounces something with a French accent.

A couple of days ago, we had a pretty funny conversation because of this. We were discussing French food--specifically saucisson, which is a French sausage. Because of customs regulations, you can't bring saucission from France into this country. But some people manage to sneak it in. Not that I'm condoning that practice mind you... Anyway, I was discussing this with Philippe and he said, "You have to bring the ones in the packages without the hair." Without the hair? Huh? Is this some sort of authentic way of packaging saucisson of which I was not aware? Have I been eating inauthentic saucisson all these years? After some discussion, I finally figured out that he was talking about saucisson in cryovac packaging and what he was really saying was, "you have to bring the ones in the packages without the air."

J'aime les francais! ;-)

Friday, May 27, 2005

Revenge of the Sith

OK. I saw it. First off, I LOVED IT! But I'm a complete sucker for well done escapist movies. Especially when they're sci-fi escapist movies. And even more so when they're Star Wars sci-fi escapist movies. I also agree with much of Ned's take on this movie. Some of it seemed contrived and way too easy. Especially how readily Anakin embraced the Dark Side. This should have been a setup for Luke feeling the good in his father in Episode 6 but there just wasn't anything there.

Warning: I'm going to give away a scene that happens toward the end of the movie so don't read the next paragraph if you don't want to know...

Interestingly, one scene I found absolutely gut-wrenching was one in which you could see no facial expressions. It was immediately after Anakin is fitted with his Darth Vader suit and the first thing he says in the James Earl Jones/Darth Vader voice is "where's Padme?" That really got me.

A question many parents want answered is whether they should bring their young Star Wars fans to see ROTS. I guess it depends on your child. My son Luke (no, we didn't name him after that Luke) is 8 1/2 years old and many of his friends have already seen it. My wife and I have decided that Luke won't be going to see this movie. He's way too sensitive. There's quite a bit of violence both explicit and implicit that I don't think he'd deal with very well. And even though he completely understands that nice Anakin transforms into bad Darth Vader, I think he'd be having nightmares for weeks about this. I think I'm going to be having nightmares about this... When I explained (without giving too much away) why I didn't want him to see ROTS, he said, "Maybe we should wait until it comes out on DVD". I agree...

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Grand Canyon

For Spring vacation, we usually visit my mother in Phoenix, AZ. This year we decided to combine that with a trip to the Grand Canyon. My wife and son and I had never been. Now I'm not typically overwhelmed by natural phenomena, but this was truly amazing. I had been warned by friends that there "just aren't the words" to describe the Grand Canyon and they were right. It was truly awe-inspiring.

To make it even more special, we took the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams, AZ to the Grand Canyon National Park. This is just a fantastic way to get to the Grand Canyon without driving. This also helps reduce the traffic congestion that occurs for most of the spring and summer at the Grand Canyon as well. My mother joined us and we got a package deal that included 2 nights stay at the Grand Canyon Railroad Hotel, first-class train tickets, a bus tour at the Grand Canyon, and some meals. The food was nothing to write home about but I survived.

The hotel is definitely geared towards families as is the train. My 8 1/2 year old had a great time. Before you leave, they stage a Western-style shootout and on the train, you're serenaded by various musicians. On the way to the GC, we had a Native American man singing traditional (and some not-so-traditional), Native American songs. On the way back, a fiddler stopped by to play everything from Irish jigs to Black Sabbath. Also on the return trip, they stage a train hold-up which was a lot of fun.

I highly recommend taking the Grand Canyon Railway as part of a trip to the Grand Canyon. You can see some pictures from our trip here.

Monday, May 23, 2005

My father

Many of my friends and colleagues have been asking me for a while when I'd be creating a blog. I never really had much interest. Besides, I was too busy reading other people's blogs to devote any time to my own.

But I started thinking about creating a blog more seriously as a certain anniversary approached. My father passed away one year ago yesterday. He passed away suddenly and at way too young an age. My father was a very creative person. He was a very good artist and an excellent amateur photographer. And so almost one year later I found myself thinking about something creative I could do to celebrate his life. Unfortunately, I didn't inherit his artistic gifts. My sister (and now it appears her daugher Leigha) was the lucky recipient. But I'm a geek. I like techie things. I write software for a living. That's my art. But this is not the type of art that's easy to share with others.

But then I also realized that my father was a techie too. He loved playing with his computer and calling me up to ask me why they didn't make these things easier for people to use. He also had a penchant for home automation. He had set up BSR X-10 units to control the lighting in his house which drove my mother crazy. We used to joke that you couldn't turn on a light in that house without an instruction manual.

So I decided that creating a blog was a good techie thing to do and about as artistic an endeavor as I'm capable of. A short time after my father died, I created a Web site as a sort of tribute to him. It contains a number of cards and letters my family received in the days following his death. I hope to add some of his photos to the site soon to balance the rememberances of his death with those of his life.

And from time to time I might post some additional thoughts of my own about my father...

My first posting

This is my first blog posting. This blog is still somewhat under construction so please bear with me as I spruce it up a bit, add RSS feeds, and all that fun stuff.

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