November 1, 2014

Spent a couple of hours watching computer science lectures on the Internet. I get really impatient with video tutorials & walkthroughs of how to use specific bits of software or libraries, but it turns out that I find them incredibly helpful when it comes to understanding the more abstract core concepts.

Or at least I do when they’re lectures by popular & high-rated Harvard professors.

We went to a late matinee of Dear White People. Really interesting movie. There are three directors explicitly name-checked by characters in it: Spike Lee, Robert Altman, and Ingmar Bergman. I’m still waiting to go through my Bergman phase (I figure maybe when I’m in my 50s?), so I can’t really address that, but the Altman & Lee influences on DWP are obvious.

At dinner afterwards, M said it was a better movie than School Daze. My love for School Daze is pretty unshakeable, but it’s also rooted in my love for the musical numbers; factor those out & I might be inclined to agree with M. Certainly the range & variety of human experience depicted in DWP is wider, although most characters still do seem to exist specifically to embody some particular spot on the sociopolitical spectrum.

At its heart, Dear White People is a movie about passing – not just as black or white, but as politically engaged/disengaged, as a different class, as someone who has it far more together than one actually does.

When I mentioned this to M, she pointed out that all of college is about passing. Which is more true for some of us than others, I guess, but is still pretty accurate.

Its flaws mostly lie in its desire to cover too much ground, with an ensemble cast of lesser-known actors. But it’s overflowing with ideas, and it’s hugely enjoyable to watch writer/director Justin Simien try on the influences of Lee & Altman while slowly feeling his way towards a style & vocabulary of his own.

Also, the costumes (at least those for Tessa Thompson) are gorgeous.

After the movie, we made good on a long-running joke/promise to eat at Primal, the new-ish kinda-sorta Paleo restaurant just across the highway from Southpoint. It’s run by the chef/owner from Blu Seafood, and it shares some of that restaurant’s flaws (i.e. reach occasionally exceeding grasp).

But it also had some flaws of its own last night, specifically some kind of kitchen malfunction that had everything running behind schedule & left huge gaps of time between courses. After you’ve waited 45 minutes for some split & roasted brussels sprouts, you should at least be able to expect that they’d be cooked all the way through, instead of nearly raw.

The place was full (though not overflowing), so maybe they’re just falling victim to quicker-than-expected success. Or maybe there’s just one linchpin of the kitchen who was out sick or recently departed.

Food-wise, there’s a lot of bacon.

Dishes that had an acidic component (sauteed kale, a grilled octopus and fennel salad) had way too much acid. Sweet sauces were a bit much as well. This is an oddly common problem around here, this desire to drench flavorful things in sauces that overpower those flavors. Given how many restaurants (including Primal) are flaunting their supposed “farm to fork” credentials, you’d think they’d have more respect for the ingredients they’re getting from those farmers.

November 1, 2014

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