Beef at Uchi. Not the subject of my review.
I've lived in Austin for a long time and so I am always amazed when I go out of town and find out that there are still "smoking" rooms at major hotels. It's been years and years since we've had local ordinances against smoking in public places or in restaurants, hotels, concert halls, etc in place here. Last week the major chain hotel I stayed with in New Jersey overbooked their non-smoking rooms and, being a late arrival, I ended up one night in a smoking room. It was absolutely dreadful. I woke up with a sore throat, a runny nose and a weird, unhappy nicotine buzz. I should not have smoked the second pack before I went to bed, but they were free and the ashtray was right there.....(just morbidly kidding -- I would never dream of smoking a cigarette).
The next night I was moved to a non-smoking room and it was like moving from the sidewalks of downtown Beijing to, well, a nice sidewalk in Austin. But by the time I made it home I had contracted a full blown head cold, cough, etc. I am enough of a scientist to understand that the smoking room may not have caused the cold, and that it was probably something I picked up on the plane flight, or even the week before, but it's more fun to focus my anger on the most visible and obvious culprit.
My schedule didn't allow for illness over the weekend as I had two projects in post production and a self inflicted deadline of end-of-day Monday. I shot downtown on Sunday afternoon and spent the rest of the time working on post processing in front of my computer. A job on Monday evening, and again yesterday during the afternoon, took up more time I could have used for recovery so, at 10:30 last night, when I had finished uploading final files to everyone, I vowed I would take today off from business entirely.
I woke up early with a nagging cough and made myself a couple cups of hot tea before we went out to walk with Studio Dog. After breakfast I immediately broke my vacation vow by billing the three jobs just completed, but after that I put the big, fancy computer to sleep and went on with my "everyman's" day off.
The first stop was to the Alamo Drafthouse Movie Theater on South Lamar for the 11:00 showing of the latest James Bond movie, Spectre. Here's what I liked pretty well: Lots of things blew up in interesting ways. The main thrust of the plot aligned with my political prejudice against consolidation of power and the surveillance police state. The cinematography was uniformly great. The 4K projection was top flight. And the five other people in the audience followed the posted rules of the house and were silent during the entire 2+ hours. (The policy of that theater is: no talking, no texting, no cellphones. After one warning the management will kick out offenders with NO REFUND of their ticket price. It's a heavenly atmosphere for hard core movie fans and those of us who have trouble tolerating loud and inconsiderate audiences....).
On the downside, the movie was --- boring. It was predictable, unimaginatively paced and predictable. Had I been in one of the smoking cities I could have gone out into the lobby to smoke a pack of Chesterfields, and come back not really missing out on much of the plot. Or the incredibly convenient happenstances (MacGuffins) that helped to save our "hero." To be sure, I am glad I saw the movie because I wouldn't like to have the string of Bond viewing broken but I must say that I probably won't go see it a second time.
When I left the theater I walked down the block to get something to eat. I guess watching someone on the screen work so hard can make one hungry by extension. And I had always wanted to try The Shake Shack for hamburgers. The interior design was nice but staid. The workers gruff, but competent, and the the Shake Shack Burger? Let's just say I expected more. It was well cooked and the bun was softer than cotton candy but other than that it was just boring. I guess we are spoiled here in Austin with P.Terry's Burgers, Mighty Fine Burgers, Dirty's Come Back Burgers, Huts, The Counter and, even the miserably named but well loved, HopDoddy's. All make burgers just as well as The Shake Shack, and most are in the same price range. I was expecting bigger, better, saltier, spicier or something-er.
After lunch I sat down at a table outside of Medici Caffe and caught myself mindlessly checking work e-mails and texts. When I realized what I was doing I turned the phone all the way off and stuck it in my pocket. I was embarrassed to feel the need to connect back to the business so slavishly.
Makes me want to turn off all the devices, grab a Nikon F and some film and just give the whole digital world a break for a while. But then who would conjecture about the demise of Samsung's camera division, gripe about the menus in Olympus cameras, pine away online for a Leica medium format camera or admit that I never use "my settings" settings?
Ten more minutes of this time off stuff and I'm going to rebel and order something online. That Zeiss 135mm f2 for the Nikon looks pretty juicy. It's got to be less boring that the movie and the burger.
Naw, it's a lot cheaper to take a nap on the couch with Studio Dog and hope this cough goes away by tomorrow. I've got some swimming to get back to...