Oct 192017
  • Hello friend. The third season of Mr. Robot started last night. Let the record show that I am watching first-run television again (though delaying it 20 minutes to enable the zapping of commercials).
  • On my way to Athens last week I noticed there is a new Blimpie next to the gas station at Gray and Browns Ferry. Seems like Blimpie tiptoed into the Huntsville market once upon a time—I believe I remember one in the plaza where Papa Gyro’s is on University—but I think they’ve been absent a good while. I don’t generally go anywhere but Firehouse when I want a sub, but maybe I’ll go try a Blimpie sometime soon.
  • When was the last time you hand-wrote someone a letter? I’m thinking making an effort to do that periodically would probably be a satisfying and nourishing use of time and resources.
  • Did you know that Ralph Waldo Emerson founded The Atlantic? I didn’t. I just read that this week.
  • The monument honoring Judge Horton in the town square in Athens is being dedicated today. In addition to his historical significance, I’ve written before that one of Judge Horton’s sons meant a lot to me. I kind of wish I’d made an effort to be there now. I’ll go see it soon.
  • Now that the boys and I watch Jeopardy! regularly, I need to check Game Show Network listings and see if I can find them an Alex Trebek-hosted show from 30 or 40 years ago. He used to have a mustache and bushy hair, remember? Pitfall would be the holy grail, but I’d take Battlestars or High Rollers.
  • I am on record in multiple places, now including here, as believing the Alabama-Tennessee game will be much closer than anticipated. The Vols are 3-3. This is their season. I’m not sure we’ve seen the Tide gut one out yet like I think they’ll need to on Saturday.
 Posted by at 10:25 am
Oct 182017

This is part of an ongoing series reviewing hot wings in the Huntsville area. Visit #HsvHotWings for a comprehensive linked list.

(Original review material below that has been updated is shown in strikethrough. New material is noted as such.)

My friend Rachel and I visited Tim’s Cajun Kitchen recently for lunch. I’ve had a lot of great meals at Tim’s—they have delectable crawfish étouffée—but I’d never tried Tim’s Famous Hot Wings, which was my aim on this trip.

Tim’s Famous Hot Wings come ten for $9.76, and there is no heat level selection. (The fries in the photograph are not included in that price.) Our server offered dressing, but when I asked she said no celery would accompany, so I passed on the bleu cheese.

From the October 2017 visit.

From the February 2017 visit.

Quality: 2/10. My wings were reasonably sized, and snuck under that magical $1 barrier. Unfortunately, they had also suffered the substantial ravages of excessive temperature. They were burned, and easily the driest wings I’ve yet been served on this #HsvHotWings adventure. (Updated October 2017: 5/10. These were better, with an occasional, within-tolerance char mark. They were also juicier. Alas, they were rubbery in spots.)

Flavor: 1/10. These wings taste like smoke. There is an undercurrent of smoke. A little whisper of smoke finishes them out. There is a slight aftertaste of sweet…smoke. Really, the smokiness was absolutely overwhelming. The occasional hint of sauce I tasted seemed like it had a sweetish buffalo vibe. While well-smoked wings are delightful, these tasted about 85% of the way to a house fire. I didn’t finish them. (Updated October 2017: 4/10. The flavor is improved, but there is still nearly nothing here but smoke, and a lot of it.)

Heat: 2/10. Almost nothing here. A bit of black pepper is evident. There’s an infrequent buffalo/Louisiana red pepper wisp that vanishes so quickly, you’re left to wonder if it was a gustatory mirage.

As many fine things as I’ve eaten at Tim’s, these wings were disappointingly jarring indeed. I’m hoping this was an anomaly. I’ll put Tim’s down for a validation visit.

(Updated October 2017: On this validation visit I found a better product, but still an unambiguously mediocre one. This is just not a strong play for Tim’s. If you want smoked wings, there are much better ones a few blocks north.)

 Posted by at 1:25 pm
Oct 182017

If you need something to do this weekend, I hope you’ll consider coming out to the Village of Providence Car Show, this Sunday at 1:00, right in the middle of Providence. Or, you want to register your car? You can do that for a couple more days here for $15, or for $20 on-site the day of the show. Ever come to Providence to eat or shop? Come back to where you did that. Here’s a great video from last year’s show:

All proceeds from the car show benefit Still Serving Veterans. I’m proud to have supported the show from the beginning. BoWilliams.com, in addition to its usual sponsorship, also has a door prize this year—a collection of eight gourmet hot sauces:

Love to see you there. Hope you can make it.

 Posted by at 10:46 am
Oct 172017

Me too. Really.

I actually have been sexually harassed, twice that I can remember. However, neither time caused me particular angst. I think that’s because when you’re a man, it’s entirely reasonable to believe it’s an isolated incident. I said “yeah, whatever” and that was it.

Mostly, women don’t have that luxury. Women can reasonably expect a periodic leer, catcall, or “compliment” that falls on the creepy/predatory side of the line, just for being women. Perceived provocative behavior, clothing, or such has nothing to do with it, nor does the fact that you may not see it day to day.

(For several good reasons, I’m not going to publicly get into how I reached the conclusion of the previous paragraph. You’re going to have to take my word for it.)

To be sure, there is still misinformation out there. One in five women are sexually assaulted on college campuses is a favorite chestnut of highly questionable provenance, for example. And there’s a certain sort of assumptive person I still find intolerable—a person who “knows” a great deal about me because I’m a white male, and who therefore imagines me presumptively guilty of a litany of sins.

The existence of these sorts (whom I generally don’t engage anymore, by the way) does not change the fact that the problem of sexual harassment is non-trivial, and there are two simple things men can do about it.

First, don’t sexually harass women. Slam-dunk, right? However, if you do need any help determining what that means, the Wikipedia article is a pretty good primer. It’s not difficult. The lines are solid, and for the most part, there aren’t women lurking about looking to “trap” hapless men into violations. The difference between screwing up and not screwing up is pretty clear.

Second, call it out when you see it. Make a scene. “Hey! Leave her alone. That’s not how men treat women in a civilized society.” You jump in not because you think she can’t take care of herself, but to accelerate the change in dynamic we need on this, which is that real men respect women, and men who don’t can expect shame from their peers.

A favorite acquaintance of mine moved to Atlanta a few years ago. She wrote a poignant blog post about sexual harassment—sharing first a dream about it, and then the real-life experience from which it had come. I commented that I couldn’t believe catcalls were a thing anymore.

Well, they are. So are men talking to women’s chests; men “accidentally” trapping women in tight spaces; and so forth. Wouldn’t dream of such behavior? Great. Me either.

But help me watch for it, won’t you?

 Posted by at 12:42 pm
Oct 152017

(No spoilers.)

We shouldn’t be talking about a Blade Runner sequel—not now, not then, not ever. The film generated well-known and long-lived animosity between Harrison Ford and Ridley Scott. It was a box office disappointment, barely making its own budget back. The legions of fans it has acquired over the years tend to be rabid fanboys and demanding purists—the sorts who are legendarily and chronically unhappy with sequels.

Yet here we are. Blade Runner 2049 landed October 6.

The 1982 film is in my all-time top five. I’ve seen it perhaps 20 times. As intrigued as I’ve been for more than a year by the idea of a sequel, I’ve also been steadily budgeting a little disappointment. It would have to be made meticulously, checking 99 of 100 boxes, and the Matrix sequels are excellent circumstantial evidence that such doesn’t happen.

If you’re reading this review, you probably don’t need a lengthy description of the world of these films. However, just in case we do have a true newbie or two along for the ride, I will share that in the near future, there are synthetic people called replicants who are very difficult to distinguish from genuine human beings. Plot points revolve around detecting and pursuing them when they stubbornly refuse to do exactly what we tell them to, as well as properly purposing them in society. The law enforcement officers who specialize in pursuing and “retiring” them are called blade runners.

I said no spoilers, and I’m not going to get into plot points at all. I went in not knowing anything about the film except what I’d seen in the trailers. Coupled with the open-ended conclusion of Blade Runner, there was a lot of ripe story territory. That was enough for me. And I won’t spoil your story except to say that Blade Runner 2049 delivers, weaving multiple narratives skillfully and succinctly.

Casting is excellent. The return of Rick Deckard is satisfying and genuine. Ryan Gosling does a wonderful job with range of emotion as the protagonist. His antagonists are pleasingly ambiguous and sinister. No missteps here.

Where I expected to be disappointed was in the production design. There are a thousand tiny little bits that make up the Blade Runner world, and I know them all by heart. All Blade Runner fans do. This seemed the most likely place to ruin the film—or at least damage it. And it is neither ruined nor damaged. On the contrary, the Blade Runner 2049 production design is a true tour de force. This is as immersive a world as has ever been depicted, demonstrating both meticulous attention to and tremendous love for the world of the first film. There are convincing evolutions. There are affectionate nods. Look for details. You will be richly rewarded.

For me, the score was another character in the 1982 film. Again, I was very satisfied with the follow-up in the sequel. Important motifs are carried through—sometimes intact, sometimes evolved—and there is plenty of original, yet thematically harmonious, new material too. I caught myself listening pregnantly during some moments for what I thought should be there, and was rewarded more than once.

The film is sixteen minutes short of three hours long, and if you know anything about how I review films, you know that I rail against overly self-indulgent run times. If it needs to be there, I’m fine with a film being five hours long. But bloated run times are all too often masturbatory, and should be called out when they are so. Blade Runner 2049 is not too long at 2:44. Nothing is wasted.

I join the chorus of several similarly difficult-to-please friends in saying this film is not only worthy, but really doesn’t fall down anywhere. It is scary good, delivering perhaps 125% of what would have passed all of even a strict fanboy’s filters. We’ll wait a few months to see where it ultimately slots in, but I’m confident today in calling Blade Runner 2049 one of my all-time favorite films.


 Posted by at 5:43 pm

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