Sad news today from Sicily. Reports have James Gandolfin passing away. He was just 51.
Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho
Sad news today from Sicily. Reports have James Gandolfin passing away. He was just 51.
It's always good to celebrate a little bit of the international when it comes to Spokane. I'm talking about Summer Parkways, which is an idea based on an event from Bogota, Colombia, called Ciclovia (which is Spanish for “cycle lane” or “bike path”).
Summer Parkways, which is described in the embed below, will be held 6-9 p.m. today in the Comstock/Manito Park neighborhoods. Streets will be closed, activities will be offered and even a bike-decorating contest will be held.
So have fun. Or, as they say in Spanish, “Diviértanse!”
Anyone can make a gin & tonic. But it takes someone special to make a Monkey Gland. Bon Bon. Get there.
This cool, cozy corner bar brings cocktails to a whole new level. The pros behind the bar mix and muddle and shake concoctions to perfection, and serve 'em up with bowls of bottomless popcorn from the theater next door.
Happy Hour runs Monday through Saturday from 5-8 and all day on Sunday.
Pinkies high, friends.
You'll find Bon Bon at the corner of Garland & Monroe, just outside the Garland Theater lobby.
During our stay in Rome last year, my wife and I both developed a taste for the traditional Roman pasta dish of cacio e pepe. A totally basic dish of cheese and cracked pepper, it is served with some sort of spaghetti. And when it is done well, it is usually as delicious as it is simple.
On Sunday night, while visiting friends in Seattle, we ate at the Capitol Hill Italian restaurant Rione XIII. We shared a number of dishes, including an appetizer made with morels that was scrumptuous. But the hit of the night, in my mind, was the cacio e pepe, which was served with tonarelli pasta. With our server — who happened to be my friend Leslie Kelly's daughter Claire Nelson — blending the cheese and pepe with the tonarelli at our table, we watched magic being born. You can see the process in the photo above.
(BTW, Rione apparently means “neighborhood.” And Rione XIII refers to the restaurant's inspiration, Trastevere, which is Rome's 13th district.)
And as my Italian-speaking pals might say, “Era delizio. Veramente.” In fact, this dish of cacio e pepe was as good as anything we ate in Rome and better than a recent dish we ordered in Florence.
Abbiamo soddisfatto. Moltissimo.
Guitar legend Joe Satriani will play the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox on October 21st and we want to send you to the show!
My brother and I had an interesting dinner at Applebee's the other night. We'd just gotten out of a 5 p.m. movie (“This Is the End”: don't ask) and were looking for something to eat. “What do you want?” I asked, to which my brother replied, “Something with meat and vegetables.”
To which I thought, “That means steak.”
Trouble is, we're talking about just before 7 on a Saturday evening. But as I was driving east on 29th, I saw the Applebee's sign, thought “why not?” and drove through the parking lot to see it it was crowded. It wasn't, so we went inside and got seated right away.
Our server was attentive, if not overly prompt (it was fairly busy, if not packed), but the specials looked tasty enough and well within our price guidelines. So we ordered “bottomless” lemonades and waited.
Pretty soon a guy was at our table asking if we knew the score to the Mariners game. I looked it up on my phone and then listened as the guy went on about this being his 68th birthday and he was there with his family and Felix Hernandez was a helluva pitcher and … you get the idea. Friendly. In a small-town, neighborly kind of way. Something I'm neither used to or particularly comfortable with. But I can pretend politeness with the best of them.
Then they sat another guy, alone, at a nearby table. He was carrying a Clive Cussler novel, started downing glasses of red wine, never made eye contact with anyone but his server and kept his eye on the hockey game playing on one of the many overhead TVs. And then, for reasons I still don't understand, he started chanting — about every three minutes or so — “Mo-HEEEEEE-toh!”
Uh, OK. Our meals came, they were better than bland. We ate as quickly as we could. Skipped dessert. And we exited. And I swear the last thing I heard as we passed through the doors was — “Mo-HEEEEEE-toh!”
That was my Saturday night. How was yours?
“Man of Steel” opened today and is likely to take over the No. 1 spot at the box office from “The Purge.” Which doesn't mean that the new Superman flick is all that much a better movie, but it does show just how quickly the Hollywood scene can change. Anyway, here is the review that I wrote of “The Purge” for Spokane Public Radio:
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the world boasted a population in 1950 of 2.5 billion people. In 2011, that number had grown to 7 billion. By 2025, projections point to a billion more.
Earth, it’s clear, is becoming a crowded place. So, what does that mean? Social scientists have their answers. As do politicians, not to mention the so-called experts who yammer on during one television broadcast after the next.
But maybe the people with the most interesting observations about overpopulation and its consequences are those who write science fiction. From Kim Stanley Robinson’s tales of Mars colonization to films such as “Soylent Green” and the forthcoming “Elysium,” the prospects of a future Earth are seldom pictured as pretty.
That goes double for the film “The Purge,” the second feature from writer-director James DeMonaco. Set in the year 2022, America in this imagined view of life a decade from now is a place of relative peace and plenty. Unemployment is barely 1 percent, and crime is basically unheard of. How has this happened? Has Obamacare solved the nation’s health-care crisis? Has a post-Obama Tea Party president not only balanced the budget but succeeded in spreading a good measure of national wealth throughout the country’s social classes?
Maybe both. Maybe neither. DeMonaco never says. What he DOES say is what many people believe: They credit everything to The Purge, an annual occurrence whereby for a 12-hour period all crime is legal. The secret, so goes the theory, is that The Purge – which is another name for willful bloodletting, usually of the weaker sections of society – allows society at large to vent its inherent rage during this one night and, presumably, settle down to working in peace and harmony for the remaining 364 days and change.
So, as our film opens, our protagonist James Sandin – played by Ethan Hawke – is driving home, smug and self-satisfied because he is one of the lucky ones. A salesman of security systems, he is coming off his biggest month ever. And after he and his wife (played by “Game of Thrones” star Lena Heady) and their two children sit down to dinner, he drops the armored walls and prepares to sit the night out – watching events unfold on television as if this were just another reality show.
But, wait a minute. Seems teen daughter has attracted a young man intent on challenging dad’s authority, and pre-teen son has – in a moment of humanity rare to this version of the future – helped a stranger escape a murderous mob by opening up the home fortress. Pretty soon guns are blazing, the mob – frustrated at being denied their right to purge – is threatening to break in, and the Sandins’ version of suburban paradise – just that fast – has turned into a dystopian hell.
Sounds intriguing, right? Well, not so much. DeMonaco gives away an essential plot twist way too early. He plays fast and loose with race relations by making everyone – white, black and Asian – an equal-opportunity offender. And, ultimately, instead of anything remotely resembling that famous jaw-dropping “Soylent Green” moment – you know, the “It’s people!” line? – “The Purge” devolves into a simple procession of who will die next.
Overpopulation will lead to many bad things. Death by boredom, though, isn’t likely to be one of them.
Always on the look for a new breakfast place, I drove out to the Spokane Valley this morning. My destination: Terry's Breakfast & Lunch, which sits on Trent Ave. just a few blocks west of Argonne Road. And I'm glad I did.
Two things I liked about Terry's. One, the waitress was friendly in a way that was jokey but not precious. She didn't call either my brother or me “sweetie” or “hon,” which I find irritating, but she kept up a ready patter of minor insults that left us both smiling. Two, my eggs were cooked exactly the way I like them (over well, by which I mean almost hard but not broken — directions that so many fry cooks just can't follow).
Plus, my hashbrowns had a good taste of gravy (even though no gravy was in sight), instead of the greasy taste many breakfast places serve. And the coffee, though hardly gourmet, was strong and hot.
My brother had no complaints about his french toast, either. Especially after I agreed to share my bacon. Maybe some dad you know will enjoy his bacon this Sunday at Terry's.
My advice: Order extra.
Nothing like an evening of literature and good food, which is what I enjoyed earlier this evening at Hill's Restaurant and Lounge. The book, Julian Barnes' Man Booker Prize-winning novel “The Sense of an Ending,” was a hit with my book group. And my Elk Burger, which I ate with a side of cole slaw, was certainly a hit with me.
All in all, over the evening, most of my tastes were sated. Literary and gastronomic. Next month: the nonfiction study “Thinking Fast and Slow,” by Daniel Kahneman.
Not sure what kind of brain food that calls for. Something with avocado, maybe?
I'm a genius.
Nothing like spending a Thursday morning on the golf course, especially when that course is Indian Canyon, and you can get right on, you don't feel pressed and the weather is cool yet sunny. We even got to see a female coyote and two of her pups as we finished the 18th hole.
Anyway, that was how my morning went, which is one of the benefits of living in Spokane (during the summer months, at least). Afterward, my friend Jim took me to one of his secret haunts — which, sorry, but will remain secret no longer. Lindeblad & Mengert Golf is a store that offers great deals (such as the one trumpeted by the sidewalk sandwich board in the above photo) and friendly help.
I even bought a new putter, which was listed for $29 but cost me only $25.
Not that it will help my game any. That coyote could probably play better than I can.
Yeah, one week you're walking the streets that Dante trod, and the next you're strolling down the aisles of … Costco? Yeah, Costco. That's where I was earlier today, buying a pair of books that look particularly interesting and a berry smoothie — all for less than $20.
And, no, I don't feel guilty. I've spent plenty of money at independent bookstores all over the world. But the sad truth is that when I see a book that intrigues me, I just have to buy it.
Before or after going to a museum exhibit, a glass of wine tends to enrich the experience. My wife, Mary Pat, and I discovered that recently in Florence when, after seeing the exhibit “La Primavera Del Rinascimento” (“Springtime of the Renaissance”), which runs through Aug. 18 at the Palazzo Strozzi — which is just off the Piazza della Repubblica — we stopped in the Caffe Giacosa outlet that sits in the palazzo's courtyard.
The wine, I recall, was a tasty prosecco. Don't hate, Tricia Jo, don't hate.
That picture above is of a Black and Bleu Buffalo Burger, which Huckleberry's describes as a “blackened seasoned buffalo patty, roasted tomato mayo, lettuce, tomato, bleu cheese on a ciabatta bun.” It costs $10.99. And along with a whopping portion of potato chips, it is worth every penny.
My apologies to Mrs. Buffalo.
One of my favorite eateries in Florence, Italy, is Trattoria ZaZa — which, this visit, was barely a block and a half from the apartment we had rented. But then one of our friends recommended another, nearby restaurant, Trattoria Da Garibardi. So on one of my last days in Florence, we dropped in for a late lunch.
So, in the photo above you see, starting from the top left, insalata Caprese and fried sage (a house specialty); in the middle, bruschetta (which you pronounce “broos-ketta”) Toscana; and at the bottom, my bowl of Ribollita soup (a traditional Tuscan soup made from leftovers, especially dried bread).
It was exquisite, by the way. Think I'm gonna try my hand at making my own home-made Ribollita.