February 12-14, 2015

The cold I had this week turned out to be a pale imitation of the killer cold I had over the holidays – it peaked on Thursday & by Saturday morning it was essentially gone. And it was apparently too weak to even get a foothold with M.

Thursday night we ate at The Boot for the first time. It’s no Gocciolina, nor is it trying to be. The meatballs were excellent, as was the marinara. It was all very comforting & thus perfect cold/cold-weather food. I feel like it could use a little more atmosphere, but maybe that takes time. 

The late-winter rollercoaster of making offers to students & waiting for them to accept/reject has officially begun. Got some quick accepts right out of the gate, which is awesome, since the projects we’re running this summer are particularly kewl, as are the mentors. Glad these students picked up on that & reacted favorably. Still, we’re a long way from fully staffed & there will be valleys ahead.

Friday night we met up with friends, parked our butts in a banquette at Juju, and ate a duck.


We’re all in our 40s and 3 of us had colds & we talked about body stuff all night like elderly people. 

Saturday, fortified by the duckfat, more or less free of sickness, M and I had dinner at Toast, saw Maria Bamford at the Carolina, and then walked through insane wind and blowing snow to the DPAC to see Erykah Badu. 

Bamford was the winner of that particular showdown. Every choice she makes seems calculated for maximum impact accompanied by maximum discomfort. She spent most of the set wrangling with the micstand, leaning at weird angles, fidgeting, and just generally using body language to convey extreme discomfort, while simultaneously talking in her trademark mixture of screwball baby voice and guttural barks. 

Which was all the perfect setup for the [many] times she would impersonate a “normal” person: standing still, face composed, voice perfectly modulated, saying the most inane things. Which always worked, always seemed so WEIRD and WRONG in just the right way.

Erykah Badu got caught in weather-related travel hell, was still in the air when her set was due to start, and finally came onstage around 90 minutes late, and only maybe 40 minutes after her plane landed at RDU. Didn’t seem to faze her at all. 

I bought those tickets having listened to her in the past, but without having a clear sense of which tunes are hers. I just knew that she’s a genius & that I wanted to see her do her thing. That impulse was amply rewarded, although we still left a little after midnight, to walk home through streets filled with flying bits of plastic sheeting from all the construction sites downtown.

February 12-14, 2015

December 19-21, 2014

I don’t want to be doing this every-three-days thing, but it has happened twice this week. Sometimes life intervenes.

Friday night we went back to Juju with a friend of ours. It was packed; there were people standing around by the door waiting for tables.

They’re still working out a few kinks in how orders get entered & food gets delivered, presumably a side effect of their small-plates setup (and the relative enormity of the dining room). We had nowhere to be, so the occasional delay wasn’t really an issue.

Last time we ate there, we loved the brussels sprouts, the fried oysters and the pork belly. This time it was all about the hanger steak. Seriously: It’s amazing. Such richness of flavor. 

Saturday I had to re-learn the hard way about how Linux handles multiple IP addresses assigned to multiple NICs on the same subnet: not well. The Linux network subsystem doesn’t really firmly associate IP addresses with NICs, so you get really unpredictable results.

I had actually learned this once, years ago, but had forgotten. In the intervening years I’ve been using all of these multi-homed OSX machines & it has Just Worked. Chalk one up for OSX. Or rather chalk one up for BSD.

Bummer about the expensive server-class multi-port NICs we just bought, though.

Saturday night we saw The Babadook, which refuses to commit to being a Bad Seed movie, a Sick Parent movie, or a Legitimate Haunting movie. It walks an excellent tightrope between those three things for ¾ of its length, but at a certain point it gets muddled & never really unmuddles.

Still, it has some amazing performances & a truly wicked evil popup book at its center.

Tonight we watched one episode of The Starlost, which is a 1973 Canadian sci-fi series starring Kier Dullea. It was written by Harlan Ellison but then modified sufficiently that Ellison took his name off of it.

It was kind of amazing. Their effects budget was essentially zero, apparently, so nearly every shot is green-screened somehow. This contrasts poorly with the rather ponderous dialogue. It’s glorious.

I have to work Monday & Tuesday this week, but I’m off the rest of the time & plan to write an entire node.js / mongodb online database with my spare time. We’ll see how far I get.

December 19-21, 2014

December 12-13, 2014

As I noted Friday on Twitter, I’ve had to buy an unusually large number of tickets via Ticketmaster this month. 90% of the time, the shows we attend are at local rockclubs, or via Duke Performances, so at worst I wind up paying a couple of bucks in fees to Etix or TicketFly, or having to navigate Duke’s Byzantine online ticketing system.

But if you want to attend anything at the Carolina Theatre, or DPAC, or now at the newly LiveNation-managed Ritz in Raleigh, it’s Ticketmaster. So this month, having bought tickets to Sleater-Kinney, Erykah Badu, and two of the Carolina’s Film Acoustic screenings, I’m literally out something like $70 in fees to Ticketmaster.

In the case of the Carolina, this is partly because I was too lazy to walk the 5 blocks to the box office and buy them there, so there is a significant self- component to the loathing I’m feeling.

Friday was pretty brutal at work for both M and myself, so I walked over to Toast for takeout, and then we wound up watching Ravenous, which had been recommended earlier in the week by johndarnielle

It’s an odd one. I had seen it before (though M hadn’t), but I had forgotten just how odd the tone was. It’s bloody & deadpan and kind of unsatisfying, but in an interesting way. Plus it features Jeremy Davies lurking in a small, amusing role as a highly-religious private.

Saturday was bullshit errands, and then a matinee screening of Mockingjay. Which starts out pretty terrible – limp dialogue, lots of catch-up exposition, not much action – but then slowly morphs into a really interesting (and DARK) meditation on the role of propaganda in political and revolutionary conflict. 

It’s not as good at that as Starship Troopers, but there’s still a lot going on there. I probably wouldn’t watch it again for fun, but I could see myself teaching it in a class.

After the movie we had an invitation to attend the friends and family pre-opening at Juju, the new venture from Charlie Deal, chef/owner of Jujube in Chapel Hill and Dos Perros in Durham.

Juju is much closer in vibe and spirit to Jujube (as the name implies), although if anything the space is more beautiful. The website says “Asian Tapas” and when I was talking to Charlie about it a few months ago, he said that part of his vision was to have dim sum carts circling so that you could be offered something delicious within a few moments of being seated.

There was a little bit of that happening last night, along with a lengthy menu of moderately-priced small plates, including a whole section of vegetables. In fact, the lightly glazed roasted brussels sprouts with dried apricots were our favorite dish of the evening.

Some of the dishes – dumplings, the mushroom curry soup – will be familiar to anyone who has eaten at Jujube. Others are unique to Juju.

For a friends-and-family pre-opening, the kitchen was doing a remarkable job – we had several dishes that are as good as anything I’ve eaten in Durham in the past year or so.

They open for real on Tuesday. It’s a pretty big space – and there’s lots of room at the center bar, as well as a kitchen bar like the one at Jujube – but I still predict they’ll hit a Mateo level of crammed pretty quickly once word gets out.

After we got home from Juju, I started seeing tweets about a protest march from Walltown, down through Ninth Street, and in the direction of 147. A friend who was there said that the decision had been made early on NOT to try to take 147, but somehow the march still wound up on the Swift Avenue bridge over the freeway, where they were apparently met by riot police with their LRAD noise weapon.

[Aside: when did Durham buy that? How much did it cost? Or was it one of those federal government cast-off freebies?]

Here is video of a little bit of what happened next:

It’s pretty shaky and hard to make out, but this video and the protesters’ tweets seem to suggest that the police pursued the protesters back across the bridge and to the Main/Broad intersection, in several cases chasing and tackling fleeing protesters.

I haven’t seen or heard anything in the news about this, and it’s unclear to me what the protesters could have done to deserve being chased and tackled after they were already leaving the area that the cops had blocked off.

There was also this little detail:

Pretty classy, Ben & Jerry, you old capitalist faux-hippie farts.

December 12-13, 2014