I added four or five dishes to this Sam’s by the Beach review. Good stuff!
Location: Ritz-Carlton. 4375 Admiralty Way. Marina del Rey, California 90292 USA. (310) 823-1700
Date: October 29, 2011
When the Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey renovated and opened its new restaurant in the early 2000s the naming committee was obviously inspired by Steve Martin‘s classic LA Story (and its 80s restaurant, lee-dee-oh — spelled l’idiot). In any case, the original Jer-ne actually served up top notch California Asian Fusion when it opened. Like most hotel restaurants, there has been chef turnover — who knows how many times in the last decade. I hadn’t been in a few years (except for the pretty amazing Sunday brunch) and when an old friend from High School Facebook IMed me that he was in town, we headed on over.
From my cellar. Parker 96 points. “The 2008 Flor de Pingus offers up an enticing nose of smoke, Asian spices, incense, espresso, black cherry, and blackberry. On the palate it displays outstanding volume, intensity, and balance. Rich, dense, and succulent, it has enough structure to evolve for 4-5 years and will offer prime drinking from 2015 to 2028.”
“oyster. pacific oysters, crispy potato, spanish ham, sambuca hollandaise.” The sauces were really good, but the oysters had that bitter note that fried oysters often have. Every time I have them I’m reminded that I like my oysters raw.
“spiced peanut butter mousse. crunchy peanut butter chocolate, candied ginger ice cream, spicy caramelized honey.” This was a nice dessert. A good interplay between the fluffy peanut butter, crunch, and the ginger ice cream.
Overall the food at this new Jer-ne was good. It didn’t blow me away or anything, and it’s very different than it used to be 8 or so years ago (full of Japanese influenced dishes), but it was a very solid take on conservative but well executed the New American. Even the desserts show plating influences that are very contemporary — what I think of as geometric and dust — the use of cubes, spheres, and ovals in a sort of post war art kind of arrangement, often dusted with granular flavor components. Red Medicine’s desserts are typical examples, but I suspect it’s really a Ferran Adrià thing.
In my latest move to further build up my social online presence I’ve moved onto goodreads.com. You can find my new profile here. It’s also installed permanently on the righthand sidebar via the icon.
Those of you who use goodreads, link to my profile and friend me. If you read and haven’t signed up for it, you might want to. Basically it’s Facebook for books. You can easily find rate and review books and then share them with your friends. I posted up about 50 book reviews (mined from this blog) and rated another 70+. Of course I’ve read over 10,000 novels so I’m not about to go back and do them all, but I’ll add them as I see them.
As an author, Goodreads is supposedly a great place to market your books, which is my nefarious ulterior motive in joining yet another social network. Muhaha!
Location: 312 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401. Phone : 310.451.7482
Date: October 21, 2011
Cuisine: Cal French Italian
Rating: Not a bad facelift.
Fraiche and Fraiche Santa Monica have gone through a number of ownership and chef changes in the last year. It’s been a couple of months so we decided to try it again.
“Beef tartare. Hand cut NY strip. Bacon sabayon, lemon.” I’ve grown increasingly fond of steak tartare and this was a tasty one. The arugala and parmesan complemented nicely.
“Pancetta risotto. Black kale. Faum um bert.” A nice rissoto with a cheesy richness bolstered by the rich chunks of ham.
And a trio of creme brulee for dessert. Chocolate, vanilla, and caramel. Nothing not to like here.
While hardly a comprehensive survey of the new menu I enjoyed what we had here. I’ll check in sooner to try it again.
Location: 12217 Santa Monica Blvd. Suite 201. Los Angeles, CA 90025. (310) 820-9787
Date: October 27, 2011
Cuisine: Japanese Sushi
Rating: Very good warm-rice style sushi
Back when my office was at the Watergarden in Santa Monica Echigo was one of my regular lunch haunts. The chef studied under Nozawa and is stylistically related to nearby Sasabune. They both follow the “warm rice” school of sushi (which I believe originates in Osaka prefecture. The rice is warmer and less sticky than Tokyo-style sushi. It tastes really good this way, but has some tendency to fall apart on the way to the mouth.
Echigo is a hair below a few of the very top lunch LA sushi places (Sushi Sushi, Mori, Go, Kiriko etc), but it offers pretty good relative value, and on the absolute scale top sushi, far above the generic touristy sushi joint. Getting the Omakase at dinner at the sushi bar is an even higher caliber experience.
Reviews have started pouring in for Naughty Dog’s latest masterpiece, Uncharted 3. Given that this is the sequel to Uncharted 2, the multiple game of the year hit of 2009, one might’ve worried that there was nowhere to go but down. But not so for the unstoppable team at Naughty Dog. Check out the scores below pouring! IGN’s reviewer even goes so far as to call it his “new favorite game of all time!” Now, I can take no credit for any of the hard work the amazing team has put into the entire series, but I will stake a small claim to having brought the company up with an attitude of quality, quality, quality = consumer first = fun! Congratulations guys for keeping the torch burning brighter and brighter.
- Edge – 9
- Playmania (Spain) – 9.9
- OPM Spain – 9.8
- Power Unlimited – 94
- PS Mania – 4/5
- Level Magazine – 10 (Second opinion: 8/10)
- IGN Germany – 9.5
- JeuxVideo – 9
- XGN – 9.4
- GamePro – 5/5
- TheSixthAxis – 10
- Eurogamer.pt – 9
- CVG – 9.5
- Eurogamer – 8
- IGN – 10
- Giantbomb – 5/5
- Joystiq – 4.5/5
- GameReactor Sweden – 10
- PlayStation Lifestyle – 10
- 1UP – A
- The Telegraph – 4.5/5
- Videogamer – 9
- Paste Magazine – 9.1
- OPM UK – 10
- NowGamer – 9.7
- GameTrailers – 9.5
- Metro – 9
- Everyeye.it – 9.5
- GamersGlobe (Denmark) – 8
- Eurogamer.cz – 10
- 4Gamers (Belgium) – 9.4
- Playfront.de – 10
- Kotaku – “Yes”
- GamesRadar – 9
- Gamersyde – N/A
- Shack – N/A
- IncGamers – 10
- Play3.de – 9.5
- GameReactor Norway – 9
- VaDeJuegos.com (Spain) – 9.4
- Eurogamer Benelux – 9
- SPOnG – 89%
- Vandal (Spain) – 9.6
- Game Informer – 9.50
PlayStation Museum has organized a charity auction of all four Naughty Dog Crash Bandicoot games, signed by yours truly and Jason Rubin. The auction link can be found here. All proceeds go to the American Cancer Society. Go bid!
I was once a very hardcore WOW (World of Warcraft) player. And although I burned out and haven’t been playing this year (after reaching 85 with my main, I just lost interest), but I still follow the news. Blizzard just released a trailer for the upcoming fourth expansion, the Mists of Pandaria. Below is a series of cinematics, from the original 2004 release to this newest (sometime 2012). It’s an interesting exercise in progression.
Above is the classic WOW launch cinematic.
Burning Crusade, where the demon infested Illidan Stormrage is confronted.
Then, above, the corrupted Lich King and his army of Scourge, in Wrath of the Lich King.
Then the gigantic Deathwing shatters the world in Cataclysm.
And finally, above, the arrival of… talking pandas. Hmmm. Seems a little like an April Fools joke. But not.
Now Blizzard also just released the cinematic for the upcoming Diablo 3.
That’s more like it! Even if the demon lecture is slightly cheesy. Also note how awesome the rendered girl looks, particularly the lighting and skin textures.
LISP was one of my early great loves in programming languages. I learned it first in college (prepping for an AI course). Perhaps it was the intensely well written “LISP Bible” Guy Steele’s Common LISP: The Language or Paul Graham’s mind opening On Lisp. Then at MIT my advisors were Patrick Winston (author of LISP) and Rod Brooks. No surprise I took to it. From Paul Graham I learned that programing languages didn’t need to be static, but could become fluid langages shaped to the specific domain or your task. From Rod I learned to roll my own.
For nearly two decades I was a diehard LISP advocate. I even forced all my programers to code three Crash Bandicoot and four Jak & Daxter games in custom LISP dialects that I wrote the compilers for. This started with our fighting game Way of the Warrior (Rod Brooks voices a character in the game) where I used MacCL to create a LISP syntax state machine to pcode compiler. Then from Crash Bandicoot a much more elaborate language for coding all the gameplay objects called GOOL. In Jak & Daxter I went full on crazy and wrote a native compiler for an object oriented full featured Scheme language called GOAL. We wrote 98% of four Jak & Daxter games in it, including the vector unit assembly.
One of the interesting things about LISP is that it’s actually a pretty easy language to parse, interpret, and compile. This isn’t actually an accident as the S-expression syntax was initially chosen for it’s machine regularity (in those early days of underpowered mainframes). Newer languages are syntactically much more complicated. Ironically most normal programmers, being human, seem to find the more complicated syntax easier and the “simple” S-expression syntax confusing (being backward much of the time to normal human convention). I always found it unambiguous, but go figure. It’s also precisely this regularity that makes the awesome macrology of LISP possible and has allowed the language to remain relevant despite its advanced age.
But by the mid 2000s I started doing the kind of programming I used to do in LISP in Ruby. It’s not that Ruby is a better language (although it is a good one), but mostly it was the momentum factor and the availability of modern libraries for interfacing with the vast array of services out there. Using the crappy unreliable or outdated LISP libraries — if they worked at all — was tedious. Plus the LISP implementations were so outmoded. It was very hard to get other programers (except a couple enthusiasts) to work that way. And ugh, those old CMCL and ACL Garbage Collection code/algo’s were (at least when I last used them in 2006) so awful. In ACL I’d get these LispMachine-like multi-hour GCs.
Ruby had a great book (I put big stock in that) and struck a decent compromise. It’s type system and object model are better (or at least more modern) than Common LISP anyway. The syntax is more inconsistent, and the macro model nowhere near as good. In Ruby you can manually build up strings and feed them into the interpreter, which is equivalent to simple backquote. But you can’t easily do the kind of cool nested constructions that are trivial in LISP.
But it turns out. Libraries and implementation matter a lot. Momentum too. Ruby has momentum, people supporting it who aren’t older than me (and I’m not a young programmer anymore, started in 1980!) Still, you can feel lots and lots of LISP influence in all the new runtime typed languages (Ruby, Python, etc). And 30 years later, listeners still rule! Using a language without a listener is like walking without legs. I pity the C, C++, Java only type programmer.
I got notes back from my editors concerning my new novel, Untimed. This is the least stressful batch I’ve ever received. Not only are there relatively few changes, but I agree with all the big ones. Granted, this was the third draft they gave notes on, so we changed a lot of things earlier, but it’s good to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s been 48 hours and I’m already through the first 25% and I’ll be done by mid-week for sure, then it’s time for another full read and polish (by me) and the line edit (by them and by me).
Suggestions for big changes, particularly big cuts, are a bit like losing a loved one. You have to progress through the stages of grief:
Denial – I won’t really have to do it. Those notes are for someone else’s book.
Anger – They don’t really understand what I was intending!
Bargaining – Maybe if I only do this or that, they’ll “let me” keep most of it. NOTE: Really the author has the power, but when an editor is good, they’re usually right.
Depression – This is going to be so much work! And I loved that stuff!
Acceptance – In the end, it’ll be a better book.
This particular batch of notes only puts a couple tiny babies on the butcher’s block. Not even whole sections of the plot, just a few little scenes or ideas. Not too bad.
Back to work.