Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Proof I purchased the article.

Proof I purchased the article.

I’ve had this 4 year old Washington Post article on my desk forever, and dug down to it while clearing some space (my desk at home is an endless queue of things to read).  I’ve mentioned Jason Wilson twice before both in reference to rum, and this article is about a perfect Gin & Tonic.  G&T used to be one of my regulars, but I tired of it a long time ago and replaced it with the straight up Martini as the preferred way to enjoy gin.

But, this article brought me back.  I have tried both the Q Tonic and the Fever Tree versions of tonic water, and it immediately brings the gin & tonic into a more complex and sophisticated taste.  Enjoyable when watching the sun go down after a summer day, and a great pre-meal cocktail for dining.

Exploring all the exotic spice tonics the article discusses seems a bit out of reach.  I recently tried aged gins which are a bit of a trend lately, but felt aging gin in barrels changed the taste of the gin into something that was unrecognizable.  I would guess that wildly different tonics would strike me the same way.  But, I’ve always been a fan of Jason’s writing and what I’ve explored based on that has not disappointed, so I’ll keep an eye out when traveling to try something new.

Unrelated; we’ve tried the Q Tonic Ginger Beer trying to make a “Dark & Stormy” (unsuccessfully, for some reason).  The Ginger Beer (think “Ginger Ale”, not beer infused with ginger) is a real punch in the face of ginger.  Crazy.  You should try it if you like “spicy”.

Just keeping track of this link:

Class Central • Free online courses AKA MOOC aggregator.

Trey sent this to me, very useful service for trolling through on line courses for new things to do.  I just finished my first Coursera class, and enjoyed the experience very much.  The quality of the material was extremely high, and the cost was extremely low (zero).  Absolutely worth the time commitment.  Others in the class not so happy, as they disliked the peer review grading system.  But, to me it was easy to ignore low value peer input when the material was so high quality and some of the peer review input was very valuable.

Very nice link on Cool Tools: . This is a great product.





Frankly… Pizza!

Author: Lyle

Local chef starts his own mobile wood fired pizza oven and parks it on the way home.  Very, very good.  Chewy, charred, crispy crust, low on sauce and heavy on good ingredients.

Locations | Frankly… Pizza!.

Jason Wilson listed suggestions for four flights of rum for tasting.  It’s not easy to collect them in Montgomery County, but I’ll give it a shot.  Here’s the short version of the list:

Flight 1- “White” slightly aged then filters

  • El Dorado, 3 year old
  • Banks 5 Island

Flight 2 – From French speaking islands:

  • Rhum Clement V.S.O.P.
  • Rhum Barbancourt, 8 yrs old

Flight 3 – Late Middle Age

  • El Dorado, 12 year old
  • Appleton Estate, 12 year old

Flight 4 – Well aged

  • Rhum Barbancourt Reserve, 15 year old
  • Flor de Cana Centenario, 18 year old

Please read the original article.  Filled with great detail on the selections as well as how to conduct the tasting.

Book Review: Star Trek

Author: Lyle

I’m not really a big fan of the book-version-of-a-movie-script that always come out accompanying a major movie.  This one was a gift, the Alan Dean Foster version of the “reboot” of the Star Trek franchise.  I read through this one because the movie was a little hard to follow; with all the focus on special effects and action the inevitable pseudo-science of Star Trek and time travel left some confusion.  Alan Dean Foster has been adapting Star Trek scripts as long as I can remember (I probably have some in a box in the basement still from the 70’s) and he writes well, so how bad could it be?

The book is well written.  It was enjoyable without the need to mentally tie it into the images of the movie, and there is nuance added to the thoughts and movements of the characters that was built from the movie.  Either lots of originality, or lots of watching scenes over and over again (I’ll assume some of both) to catch tons of detail that I missed in the theater.  So, I give the adaptation a thumbs up.

But, I’m just left with an overall negative impression of so much of the Star Trek “canon” of work.  This, of course, is no judgement on Mr. Foster’s work on this book but more of a disappointment in the lack of vision or coherence with the whole Star Trek universe.  “Franchise coherence loss” is prone to happen when the creator of the series leaves us and the franchise continues to be developed by others.  Star Wars, in contrast, continues to be the vision of George Lucas and is tightly controlled.  Say what you will about the quality of the story, but the database of characters and events maintains its integrity across decades of movies, books, and television.

Star Trek suffers from the loss of original vision.  Sometimes a franchise continues by a single person or family member that keeps the vision and history intact (think “Lord of the Rings”, or “James Bond”).  In the case of Star Trek, the ownership passed from Gene Roddenberry to Paramount Pictures to dozens of others, each seemingly eager to plant their personal imprint on the vision.  We’ve gone through the original series, the next generation, the outpost of Deep Space Nine, the wayward Voyager, the television reboot to the first Enterprise, and now a film reboot to replace all the actors with young sexy ones.  Along the way we’ve had to deal with mind bending developments like “Q”, the Borg, the science of warp drive destroying the environment, navigable wormholes, Kirk living in some twisting Roman Candle, star ships that crash on planets, star ships that can land on planets, and of course the Enterprise which cannot take of or land but seems to be built on Earth.

But nothing hurts my continuity of Star Trek more than the endless series of time traveling adventures leaving behind them a wake of broken history.  The shame of it is that we’ve seen Star Trek use time travel with great positive impact.  The City on the Edge of Forever is a brilliant piece of work, and for 1960’s television a great piece of acting and production as well.  Star Trek 4 had great humorous moments without altering our understanding of the future events of Star Trek.

This story, of course, leaves giant muddy footprints across the library of the Federation.  Vulcan no longer exists, Romulus is informed of a future, violent end, and legions of terrorists now know about a mysterious red goo that can cause a black hole.  Just the Vulcan issue alone throws away tons of known adventures, including Amok Time which established so much of our understanding of the Vulcan people.   For the new Star Trek fan (new with this movie), I’m sure all is fine.  They know that in the future we apparently give starships to crews of 24 year olds with six-pack abs who get to chase future mini-skirts across the galaxy.  But for old-timers like me someone talking about Star Trek makes me ask “which one, original, real old, old, kind of new, or new?”.

I’ve heard Randy Bachman (yes, the BTO guy) interviewed a few times. In fact, it was perhaps one of the greatest moments on radio I ever remember when I heard him interviewed by Howard Stern many years ago; I couldn’t get out of the car to go into work it was so compelling. He is not only the tremendously accomplished songwriter and musician we know for many years, but he is a great speaker and tells a story well. If you get a chance to hear him talk you should take advantage of it.

Anyway, Guitar Squid has this little YouTube link (audio only) to him talking about a rare opportunity to explore original Beatle’s master tapes. A great story, and it closes with the great sound that reminds us why the Beatles are where they are in music history.

Duck Tron on Vimeo

Author: Lyle

Maybe you love Tron. Maybe you love duct tape. Either way, great advertising.


Duck Tron on Vimeo on Vimeo

via Duck Tron on Vimeo.

Performance date was December 15th, 2010.

This show is starting to be a seasonal regular for us.  It seems like Aaron has appeared at the Birchmere in December the last few years, last year’s event being canceled due to a huge snowstorm.  Formal title on the marque included “featuring Charles Neville”.

It’s really a great show to see.  They performed a long set, more than two hours on stage without a break.  Part of the fun is a sprinkling of Christmas tunes throughout the night, although Louisiana Christmas Day was skipped (and one of our favorites).  The set included a wide number of types of songs, some of the more familiar Neville Bros. type arrangements, a medley or two, and great covers for Aaron to do like Under the Boardwalk.  It would be a great job to be the person who says “hey Aaron, play this song now.”  Of course, he does a great job of this on his own; we’ve seen him or the Neville Bros. more than 4 times over the last few years, and its always feels fresh because the set list is always different.

Charles is great, too.  We have heard his cover of Besame Mucho a few times and it doesn’t get stale.


Author: Lyle


Sent to me by someone busting on the Redskins.  In reality, a site run by Redskins fans.  And, a nice collection of links concerning the one position that should be traded, but can’t be.