Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Movie Review - Manchester by the Sea

I haven't been to too many movies lately because Hollywood is putting out too much crap. Also, the local theater is a hang out for young thugs so it has to be a good movie for me to go see it.

 Manchester by the Sea is a small town in Massachusetts on the coast and a little north of Boston. It's not quite to Gloucester but along the way there. I'm familiar with the area as I went to college in Boston and used to scuba dive off of Cape Ann. Enough of the personal history.....

Let me be straight up about this movie - it is NOT a feel good movie. It is a movie about personal tragedy and dealing with loss. as the trailers will tell you, Casey Affleck's character is called back to his hometown to become the guardian of his 15 year old nephew. The movie uses a series of flashbacks to tell you how he came to leave home and what happened to his brother. Some may say that the acting is stilted but to me it seemed that the characters acted exactly the way I would expect real people to. Because of that, the pace is a little slow and much of the emotional interplay is done with facial expressions and body language than dialog.

While the area can be picturesque, the story takes place in winter when the scenery is bleak and trees are bare which adds a depressing note to an already sad story line. The  characters are realistic. They do not live in chrome and glass beachfront houses but in wood frame mid century cookie cutter houses furnished with second hand furniture and cheap paneling. They are clearly people stuck in the low middle class who have little hope of improving circumstances who have to deal with real problems.

I think selecting Affleck was an excellent casting choice. He fits the part well and got a Golden globe nomination for Best Actor. Michelle Williams also got a Best Supporting Actress nomination but she was only on screen for less than 10 minutes out of a 2 hour movie so I thinks that is a stretch.

If you can handle a depressing movie with a good story line and decent acting, you may want to catch this one.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Royal Lochnagar Selected Reserve

I received this bottle as a Christmas present in 2010 and planned to open it after a Republican victory in 2012. That never happened but now I get a second chance.

The Lochnagar distillery became "Royal" after a visit by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. It is located conveniently close to Balmoral in the Scottish Highlands. The distillery is owned by Diageo who also provides us with Johnnie Walker, J&B, Guiness and other fine beverages. The non-select grades of this whiskey used to be the main component of Vat 69 and they now make up the base for Johnnie Walker Blue.

This version comes in a wooden presentation box but was discontinued in 2012.

Color: Dark amber. (Coloring may have been added)
Nose: Grass, Hay, Flowery
Palate: Smooth and sweet
Finish: Lingering and warming

This whiskey looks like it might be peaty but it is not. It has a unique sweetness to it that is different for scotch. It is also a fairly expensive whiskey so if someone offers you a dram, do not turn it down.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Louisiana Weather and Signs of the Times

We woke up Sunday to a balmy 71 degrees. By 11:00 AM there had been a 20 degree drop in temperature. By sundown, the drop was 30 degrees and we had horizontal rain.

I went to Sam's last week to "make groceries" and witnessed the store crew pulling down the aisle with Christmas decoration stuff. I guess they think everyone has done their decorating. I then went to Rouse's and what did I find at the front door?........King Cakes. If it's Christmas, can Mardi Gras be far behind?

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Book Review - Onslaught

This book continues the story about the war with China. Things are going hot and Dan has been ordered to lead a task force blocking part of the South China Sea and to provide ABM coverage to Taipei. It looks like the infection has been stopped but the rapist still stalks the decks and an NCIS investigator has been put on board.

The action changes between Dan, the NCIS agent, Dan's wife, Blair, who is back in Washington and running for election and SEAL Teddy Oberg. This book has more action than the previous one but he spends a little too much time on the NCIS agent and Blair for my taste. Given current events concerning our relations with China, this story seems totally plausible and prescient. Poyer has not only done his homework about ship board systems but the political climate as well.

The book ends with several plot themes unfinished so we can expect another book in this series.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Finland Independence Day

On this day in 1917 Finland declared independence from Russia. My grandparents emigrated from Finland in 1903 so they never lived in an independent Finland. Their stories may have been the source of my mothers hatred of Russia and her concern about me when I was travelling there for oilfield business in 1991.

22 years later, Finland would celebrate this day by fighting a Russian invasion of the Karelian Peninsula. This was the Winter War (Talvisota in Finnish). It was the Finns that developed the Molotov Cocktail as an anti tank weapon. It was this was that developed the worlds top sniper, Simo Hayha. It was in this war that the Finns gained a reputation as excellent ski troops. Even though they fought the Russians to a standstill, they had to give up Karelia in the treaty. And it was the Finns performance against the Russians that helped to convince Hitler to invade Russia.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Head Count

Saudi Arabia cleaved the heads off 12 murderers last month to bring their year to date total to 140. One more month to go.