Sun - December 12, 2010

New content now linked from the main page

As of the fall of 2010, I've stopped adding content to this blog. These pages will remain, but new content will be linked from the main page.

Posted at 05:42   Main   Permalink

Sat - December 4, 2004

Lost in Translation seems to be persistently misunderstood

Even quite clever people seem to persist in (in my opinion) misunderstanding the movie Lost in Translation. It's a small movie; it doesn't attempt to address any large or difficult questions or show us anything particularly remarkable. A buddy said that it's about the triumph of friendship over jet lag and I don't have a better description. But some folks call it racist and others, more mildly, criticize it for making lame and tired jokes about Japanese people. What those folks are missing, in my opinion, is that the movie isn't being told "straight". It's being told from the point of view of Bob Harris, the Bill Murray character. Of course, an unreliable narrator isn't as obvious in a movie as it is in a book; movies tend to look objective. It's not as though the camera shows us the view from Bob Harris's eyes. But Lost in Translation makes much more sense if you take it as being told from his point of view. The Japanese people in the movie do appear silly in cliched ways. But those cliches are just the sort that would match the preconceptions of a has-been American actor who last did anything successful in the 1970s. And we see other things in the movie from Bob Harris's point of view. In the telephone calls he has with his wife, for example, we get a one-sided view that's more obviously Bob Harris's. The movie does make fun of people, but it's not Japanese people who are being made fun of, it's people like Bob Harris who don't see beyond their preconceptions.

Oh, and Suntory whiskey can be quite good.

Posted at 08:55   Main   Permalink

Fri - October 1, 2004

City fisherman

The weather has been turning fall-like in the past few days, but last Sunday was particularly beautiful and I managed to snap this photo from the southwest corner of Lake Calhoun.

Posted at 03:33   Main   Permalink

Tue - May 18, 2004

Movie: The Last Samurai

The Last Samurai is a very silly movie. It's about a youngish but broken-down Civil War veteran, Nathan Algren, who goes to Japan to train the Meji Emperor's troops so that they can subdue some hold-outs who think that feudalism continues to be a fine idea. Algren finds that he has more in common with the noble samurai warriors that he's supposed to train people to kill than with his evil (American) commanding officer and the slimy Japanese politicians who want the samurai dead.

That's only rather silly. The especially silly bit is the portrayal of feudalism. The Last Samurai isn't the first time that feudalism has been portrayed as a sort of idyllic proto-socialism (multi-cultural proto-socialism in this case, a buddy points out) and it won't be the last time. But just in case anyone was wondering, Japanese feudalism was at least as dreadful for most people as anybody else's kind. The idea that samurai would have had the least interest in the well-being of peasants is plain wrong.

Posted at 03:25   Main   Permalink

Mon - March 8, 2004

Watermelon margaritas

Last summer, a buddy of mine made watermelon margaritas when I was visiting. Normally, I'm rather dubious about improving drinks by making them more elaborate, especially by adding fruit. (I'm only pretty dubious, not as dubious as a bartender in an old bar on West Seventh Street in St Paul who once said, "No drink should have more than three ingredients. Counting the straw.") In fact, I wasn't dubious in this case since my buddy is very sound on the subject of booze. It turned out that they were fabulous; better even than I had expected them to be. It seems that watermelon pulp has just the right amount of flavor to compliment the taste of a properly made margarita.

According to me, an ordinary margarita is made like so:

    1 part lime juice
    1 part Grand Marnier or Cointreau orange liqueur
    2 parts tequila

    Serve over ice. Coarse salt on the rim of the glass is
    splendid if you like it.

    Note that that's lime juice that you get from squeezing
    limes. Not bottled stuff. Some folks will use triple sec
    for the orange liqueur but I think that the result is
    perceptibly less good.

That's a very good drink if you ask me. If you haven't had a margarita made that way recently, go and have a couple.

As for adding watermelon, you probably won't be able to use up an entire watermelon at once. That's fine because you can freeze the pulp for (as far as I can tell) as long as you want. Watermelon margaritas taste even better in February than they do in July.

All you need to do is to mash up the watermelon pulp and remove the seeds. (For some reason even watermelons sold here as "seedless" contain seeds, just fewer.) I've done the that by cutting up a watermelon into golfball-sized bits and squashing it through a colander with a potato-masher. I expect that there are less labor-intensive methods that would work equally well; I just happened to have a colander and a potato-masher handy. Once you have a bowl full of watermelon juice, freeze it in ice-cube trays and store the watermelon-cubes in your freezer in ziplock bags.

Two watermelon-cubes can be melted in my little microwave in about 30 seconds and that's just the right amount of watermelon to add to a margarita made as above. The result is remarkably good.

Posted at 09:48   Main   Permalink

Wed - January 7, 2004

Weather report

In Minneapolis in January it is possible for it to be simultaneously cold enough that the snow squeaks when you walk on it and much warmer than the day before.

Posted at 03:16   Main   Permalink

Fri - December 19, 2003


Someone who rides the same kind of motorcycle that I do has snapped a photo of the rare and elusive chameleo-dog.

Posted at 11:13   Main   Permalink