NFLX2019 October 11th: El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. Vince Gilligan. 2019. ☆☆★★★★

Full disclosure time: I’ve watched two episodes of Breaking Bad. I watched the first one and thought “this is Extruded New Golden Age Of Quality TV Product”: All the ticks of “seriousness” that viewers of silly TV series love these days.

And I watched the Ozymandias episode because everybody said it was the best thing ever committed to SSD.

It was lame.

So I may not be the most qualified person in the world to be bloviating about this movie, which is… a sequel? It seems to be well-received by the fans of the TV series. I mean, reviewers at newspapers. I mean, the fans of the TV series.

*eye roll*

This movie seems to be about… very sentimental… drug dealers? And cars? I’m guessing all the lines are fan service, but as I have no idea what they’re talking about, it’s all rather weird. The scenes are shot as if they’re Serious Emotional Depth, but they do little to justify that in this movie.

All these super-stupid things in here (like what I’m guessing is the badder bad guy?) doing this elaborate string/clamp thing to give the guy who’s usually balder a cigarette? Instead of just dropping it? It’s all so silly.

There’s nothing I loathe more than the style the writers adopt here: “Here’s a guy who’s totally a monster, but see, he’s petting this puppy, so see? there’s complexity and depth! COMPLEXITY AND DEPTH I TELLS YA!” It sickeningly formulaic and tedious.

On the plus side: This movie looks pretty nice. It uses mid-90s US indie movie aesthetics to its advantage. The soundtrack isn’t annoying. The actors are better than average for made-for-TV movies.

I guess:

Anyone who hasn’t watched the show, though, will miss most of why Gilligan’s feature-length epilogue is a success.

But… oh my god, the stupid. The scene in the hoover store just wouldn’t end. And that shootout. Was that supposed to be surprising?

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 October 4th: In the Tall Grass

In the Tall Grass. Vincenzo Natali. 2019. ☆☆☆★★★

So what’s this then? A Children of the Corn remix?

Oh, it’s based on a shortish story by Stephen King. It’s about a pregnant woman and a a guy lost in … tall… grass? What is that grass anyway? Doesn’t look like papyrus? I guess it’s just a field of magically tall grass.

I guess because if it was corn it’d be like a copyright issue.

Hm:

It’s rather astonishing how fast Vincenzo Natali’s “In the Tall Grass” completely loses your interest.

Hm… I’m half an hour in, and I’m still interested. I mean, it isn’t scary, but as horror movies go, it’s like an 80s homage horror movie. I don’t mind that.

I’m reminded of the Mad parody of Stephen King stories in general: “Er, I need to write something! But what haven’t I done…. Oh! Ironing boards! This one is going to be about a haunted ironing board that kills people! Clack clack!”

But it does drag on a bit. It feels like it should be over after three quarters of an hour, but we’re only at the halfway point by then. But I guess the twists do keep coming… even if they aren’t very… interesting…

It’s not like I’d recommend this movie to anybody or anything, but I found it entertaining enough. I mean, for a stupid horror movie.

The gross-out bits the end are pretty gratuitous.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 September 27th: In the Shadow of the Moon


In the Shadow of the Moon. Jim Mickle. 2019. ☆☆☆☆☆★

Netlix didn’t release much over the summer, but now suddenly there’s a whole bunch of stuff! Let’s get started.

Well, that’s a strange way to start a movie. With a straight-up scientific voiceover that explains the concept of the movie. (It’s telepathy.)

OH!!!! The voiceover came from the computer, not the Apple TV! It’s totally unrelated! But it seemed to work perfectly! There was no talking in this movie for the first seven minutes, and there was no music or anything on the voiceover thing. Where did that come from? Oh! Crimes of the Future! By Cronenberg!

Tee hee.

How Cronenbergish.

So all those people getting nose bleeds did not have anything to do with telepathy?

*resets brain*

OK, this is a serial killer/cop buddy movie.

I AM DISAPPOINT.

However, this is pretty likeable. The aforementioned buddies have pretty good chemistry, and while the banter isn’t scintillating or anything, it’s entertaining enough.

[some time passes]

OK, I’ll stop talking now, because the less you know about what this movie is about, the better. The initial voiceover actually befuddlement probably helped with the entire experience being entertaining, but… I was entertained. It’s a surprisingly fresh movie.

Not that it doesn’t have faults: There are so many cliches used in the plot (of which I will mention nothing) that it’s a bit eye-roll inducing at points, and I did guess the Big Plot Twist immediately after I realised that this was a movie with a Big Plot Twist, and the movie doesn’t make much sense, but still: Very original.

I added a ☆ for the politics.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

2×10%

Since this summer, I’ve er had some time on my hands, so I thought I’d work at fixing Emacs bugs. (Or closing stuff that’s no longer relevant.) And since working towards some goal is more fun, I decided that 10% of the Emacs bug tracker would be nice.

There was about 4500 open bugs in the tracker, so that was 450 bugs, which I completed in August.

After taking some time off, I thought it was time for another 10%. Which is, of course, 410 bugs, since there’s now a smaller number of open bugs in the tracker.

I have the best math. And this way, each 10% is easier.

And today, tada, Emacs reported

11 today; 410 bugs; target 410; start 2019-08-07T20:40:02

and I’m done! Which is perfect timing, because I’ve got a cold, so writing a bragging blog post is just my speed.

So now there’s about 3500 remaining open bugs in the tracker. “But wait,” you say, “I can’t find my slide rule but according to all maths, 4100 less 410 isn’t 3500, probably”. You are indeed a mathematical genius. But I’m not the only one working at trolling I mean trawling the bug database. In particular, Stefan Kangas has closed hundreds and hundreds of bugs concurrently with me. (And, of course, the rest of the gaggle of Emacs people working at the usual rates of reporting/fixing.)

In addition, since I’m from finance, I can apply the newest financial science innovations: Linear extrapolation.

By using these latest technologies (i.e., a ruler and a sharpie), I can predict:

In 2021, there will be more closed bugs than have been opened! It’s an inversion of the OxC Index! It’s a brave new world! This time it’s different!

And now it’s time for another break, I think. Well, at least after my cold clears up; I might as well continue a bit more while feverish…

BC&B: Poulet Rôti aux Herbes Pile ou Face w/ Le Cachat

OK; time for more food. The next selections from the Bistro Cooking book in the cheese section is this thing:

It’s… uhm… Simple? It’s chevre with cottage cheese and some herbs.

I did not have summer savory (because it’s autumn), so I just went with thyme.

So you dump it all into a food processor and then run it until it’s smooth.

And then pat down into a bowl.

It’s… uhm… it tastes like… even blander chevre? I mean, cottage cheese doesn’t bring a lot of flavour, and “several sprigs” of thyme didn’t really add much, either?

Then it’s supposed to be covered by a layer of eau de vie, which is apparently French for “any kind of booze that’s not made from grapes”, so I went with a pear liqueur. I don’t know whether that was a good idea or not…

And then into the fridge. It’s supposed to stay there for some days?

OK, on to the main course, which is a roast chicken with a bizarre amount of greenery:

Adding that all up together, that’s almost 200g of green stuff to be slathered onto the poor chicken.

Look!

Greens!

The main greenery was supposed to be sorrel leaves, which are out of season, so I substituted with wood sorrel… but… I should probably have gotten a couple more plants, because it’s almost all stems.

So the final weight of the leaves…

… was less than the recipe called for.

But into the food processor it goes.

Darn. I forgot to take a pic when the fud professor was all full of herbs, because it was an impressive sight. Once it had been chopped up, it’s no longer as exciting.

OK, then the chicken is coated with egg yolks (to make the herbs stick)…

… add salt and pepper …

… and all those herbs.

Now that’s a herbed chicken.

And some butter, of course.

Meanwhile, I baked some bread to go with the dish.

So the chicken went into the oven at 250C, and then baste it ever ten minutes. I’ve recently gotten a turkey baster, so I got to try it for the first time. It’s really effective.

I had kinda expected all the herbs to just turn into ash, but I guess the basting help keep it from burning off. Still, it doesn’t look very pretty now, does it?

After 90 minutes, out to rest for some minutes before cutting.

Then the sauce is made from just reducing the liquids from the pan.

So I naughtily added some tomatoes and bread, and then sliced some bits off the chicken, and there we are.

Oh, but I need something to read!

The next book on the shelf is The Elephant of Surprise by Brent Hartinger. Let’s read the first two pages:

See? It’s a very frothy, teenagery kind of book. I think I’ve read the previous books in this series…

So how’s the chicken? It’s delish! Sort of! I mean, it’s moist and tender and just about perfectly cooked. Goes super well with the ridiculously tasty tomatoes and the freshly baked bread slathered with butter.

But!

Those herb and that sauce… I just don’t get it. Despite there being a great variety of herbs used, I basically could just taste parsley. With a hint of tarragon. If I had had the described amount of sorrel it would have been a different thing, but it was just parsley that came through. Couldn’t taste the chervil or the dill or the sorrel, just paaaaarsley.

If parsley is your favourite thing in the world, this is the recipe for you.

But I had a solution: I just stopped adding sauce to the chicken, and then it was delicious. I ate until I died. Literally. I literally died.

The book paired well with the chicken: It’s also a light, moist and tender treat. Hartinger has a way of writing the way I remember writing as a teenager; full of digressions and bad jokes. But he also does a really weird thing in this book: He goes on these long didactic sections about Freegans, of all things. I know, this book is from 2013 so it was probably a novelty at the time, but now it’s just like “er well that’s a turn of events”.

Hartinger writes the kind of stuff that goes down really easily on a sentence by sentence basis. There’s nothing awkward here and there are no snags. If I were 14, I would have absolutely adored this book, and I kinda quite like it quite a bit now.

Oh, yeah… the cachat… two days later is still tastes like slightly herbed chevre with some pear booze on top.

That’s not bad, but I think I would have preferred eating the chevre just as it came from the shop.

This blog post is part of the Bistro
Cooking & Books
series.

BC&B: Daube de Boeuf Auberge de la Madone aux Cèpes et à l’Orange w/ Gâteau au Chocolat Le Mas de Chastelas

It’s been a while since I cooked anything for this silly blog series, but I’ve been like busy and stuff. And so I’m going to cheat and not actually read a book (this is a food/book pairing blog, I’m sure you don’t remember).

So just food this time, but it’s food that takes a while to er marinate or something.

Look at all these ingredients! Well, OK, the laptop with SG1 isn’t going into the pot, but the rest is.

It’s basically beef in wine (Boeuf Bourguignon or something), so you need some meat that can cook for a long time, so I chose these, but I’m a bit leery about the one to the right… doesn’t seem fatty enough…

Well, it’s all chopped and in a pot. Easy enough.

Then the wine is added, and then…

… it’s into the fridge for 24h to … get all flavourful or something.

So while that’s taking care of itself, I thought I’d make a cake.

It’s a suspiciously simple recipe, and it’s got a suspiciously small amount of flour…

I mean, these are the ingredients. Chocolate (half a kilo), butter (a quarter kilo), sugar, eggs (ten of them) and a teensy smattering of flour. How is this ever doing to result in a cake?

OK, so first get the chocolate a-melting in a pot-in-pot water bath thing. I know that everybody recommends doing this in the microwave these days, but doing it this old-fashioned way is fine by me: It’s a bit slow, but….

… I’ve got to separate ten eggs! I’m pretty good at separating eggs, but I’m not perfect, so I’m doing it in an intermediate small bowl to catch mishaps.

See? The chocolate is totally melting.

And the eggs are separating! I only fucked up a couple.

Mmm… chocolate…

And egg whites.

And then the butter is dissolved into the chocolate. I have to say, the resulting mess is really, really tasty.

The egg yolks are whipped a bit, and then the minuscule amount of flour is whisked into it, and then it’s all whisked into the chocolate/butter mixture (that’s now cooler).

Now the batter tastes even better!

And then all the egg whites are whisked gently, gently into the mess…

And then into a springform. That’s a heavy cake, dude.

So after I had popped the cake into the oven to bake (for just 15 minutes) I re-read the recipe and saw that it called for a 27cm springform, while I had used a 24cm springform.

OOPS.

It’s a bit overfull, but I hope it’s baked enough now… The recipe calls the baking method “bizarre”: 15 minutes in the oven, then 12 minutes out of the oven with a lid on top to “steam”. Well, there’s no way to put a lid on that, but I put a slightly bigger bowl over it and hoped for the best..

OK, it sank a bit…

What!

OK, it’s more than a bit too moist in the middle (well, runny, actually), but it’s totally, utterly delicious! It’s so light and fluffy! It’s … like… a chocolatey omelet! A chocolate souffle! This is one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever had! Such a clean, great chocolate flavour, with a fabulous light texture.

I’m definitely going to do this cake again, but I’m getting a bigger springform to get a more even bake. Or perhaps I should get out my slide rule and do some maths on how to scale the recipe down.

Wow.

OK, still in a chocolate coma the next day, the meat is now all marinated and stuff.

Smells surprisingly good for a cold casserole of raw meat. I guess it’s the herbs that do it.

I don’t know how well this photographs, but the meat is now purple.

So the red wine is reduced a bit…

And the meat, after being patted dry, is given a good browning. This seems like a pretty strange way of doing it, but then again, I know nothing. But can you even get a good sear after the meat has been in an acid liquid for 24 hours?

Well, I don’t know. Difficult to tell with the purple colour, anyway…

And then the veggies are also sauteed, and then it all goes into the sauce to “barely simmer” for four hours.

A heaping of mushrooms are also sauteed. The recipe calls for cépe mushrooms, which I couldn’t find fresh in the shop at all. The recipe also says that if you can’t find cépes, then use “mushrooms”.

Mushrooms.

I googled and found that some people (especially Americans, apparently?) use “mushroom” as a synonym for champignon, so I got a bunch of those.

Then, after four hours, they’re added to the rest, along with orange juice and orange zest. Smells nice! Looks horrible!

OK, and now I was prepared for something wonderful and… eh… no. Not at all. Was there something off with the orange? I used organic ones so that the zest wouldn’t be all POISON and stuff, but… the flavour… is really harsh. It tastes like I’ve dropped a bottle of orange extract into the dish: It has a horrible, astringent, artificial smell and taste.

WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT.

As for the meat — as I suspected, the leaner cuts were dry, but the fattier bits had the perfect consistency: Moist and totally tender.

But also pretty much inedible due to the orange zest.

Oh, well, I can eat more chocolate cake (with some port) instead. Cheers!

This blog post is part of the Bistro
Cooking & Books
series.