Movie review: Green Book

I seldom see serious movies in the theatre, mostly because if I am going to go to the bother of showing up at an appointed time and putting up with sticky floors and talkative movie goers, I had better enjoy the movie. (Which is why I generally stick with Disney/Pixar/Marvel movies in the theatre.) But this movie had come highly recommended, so off we went.
And it is fabulous! Viggo Mortensen plays an Italian-American bouncer who gets hired to drive Mahershala Ali, an African-American musician through the South on a performance tour. (“Green Book” refers to a travel guide for African-Americans designating safe places to stay throughout the South.) The movie traces both the journey and the various indignities piled upon Mahershala Ali’s character as well as the evolving relationship between the two men, who, on the surface, have nothing in common.
The plot, based loosely upon a real story, is perhaps fairly predictable. What puts this movie above many similar ones is the quality of the script and the quality of the acting. The movie doesn’t try and make any sweeping generalizations or moral statements, it sticks to the story of the two men, and the intimate nature of the movie does its work for it. Both Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali are excellent in portraying nuance and complexity in two characters that could easily have fallen into easily defined stereotypes. Viggo’s character is overtly racist, and he only reluctantly takes the job because he needs the money, but as the movie goes on, he proves to have a kind and tolerant heart. Mahershala’s character is cultured and well-educated, but that isn’t enough to prevent him from suffering discrimination. He thinks he’s superior to Viggo’s character, but he learns to appreciate the strengths of Viggo’s character while trying to improve him at the same time.
One of the most touching points of the movie comes when Mahershala’s character suffers an identity crisis. He has jumped through all the hoops of education and accomplishment and yet, he is still treated in accordance with the color of his skin. And the final indignity is at his final stop where he’s expected to play in front of an audience at a club, but the club won’t let him eat there because he’s black. The emotional crux of the movie is at this point, when the bond developing between the two men is tested in how they react in that moment.
The emotional shading and the growth of the characters is what makes this movie special. Four thumbs up for this movie. Go and see it!

Honolulu January 2019

I expect that everyone is tired of hearing of our trips to Honolulu and how glorious of a paradise it is. If so, then this is an easy blog post to skip. I just wanted to commemorate our annual 2019 trip-without-the-kids (to Honolulu, of course).
And also to point out without (much) gloating, of course, that Hawaii is truly a beautiful place.

The weather wasn’t ideal this trip with some rain and (relative) cool temperatures, but when Washington, DC suffers from a little bit of snow and a lot of cold (temperatures hit 4 degrees overnight once), a little bit of rain and mid-70s is to be appreciated.
We had our routine of walking around Diamondhead early every morning (about 7 miles) and going to the Bishop and Honolulu Art Museums. We also ate gloriously at some of our favorite restaurants, including Town, Chef Mavro (twice!), The Pig and the Lady, and Nobu, as well as at some more hole-in-the-wall restaurants like Doraku, Goma Tei, and Steak Shack.
But, most importantly, we spent time together (and it’s the only place where I am a morning person). We become empty nesters in about a year and a half, and it will be interesting to see how the adjustment goes. It seems like a good idea to us to periodically remind ourselves who the other person is across the breakfast table before that’s the only other person in the house. Just sayin…

sunrise over waikiki

Book review: Footsteps in the Dark by Georgette Heyer

Footsteps in the Dark

Footsteps in the Dark by Georgette Heyer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


3.5 stars actual rating

I adore Georgette Heyer Regency romances, and I am very fond of her mysteries as well. This particular one is completely representative of Heyer mysteries. There is a large quantity of witty dialogue, acute and funny commentary on British societal biases, a somewhat cursory but adorable romance, and oh, yes, a mystery to solve. (I suspect the priorities of the author were in that exact order.) This book isn’t going to stretch your brain cells or make you think about it much afterwards, but it is an extremely pleasant way to spend a few hours. The book delivers precisely what it promises, which is a frothy and delightful set of characters who happen to stumble upon a mystery to solve and a romance to conduct. For those of you who like light-hearted British cozy-type mysteries, this book is perfect for you.



View all my reviews

Book review: Code Girls: The Untold Story of American Women Code Breakers Who Helped Win World War II by Liza Mundy

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers Who Helped Win World War II

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers Who Helped Win World War II by Liza Mundy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


One of my (achievable) New Year’s resolutions is to read more non-fiction. “Code Girls” was a wonderful place to start. The author paints a detailed and knowledgeable picture of the role women played in World War II breaking both the Japanese and German codes. Despite their obvious intelligence and substantive contributions to the war effort, these women often faced discrimination during their service. And, yet, the vast majority of them persevered, wanting to do their part to support the war effort. Their patriotism and their contributions in breaking the codes of the enemy are an untold and underappreciated part of World War II history.
I found the descriptions of the code-breaking effort and what it entailed fascinating. But even more fascinating was reading about the backgrounds of the various women. Certainly, there were women from elite colleges such as Barnard and Smith that contributed. But many of the most brilliant code-breakers came from less exalted schools or were from rural areas or were schoolteachers or just looking for adventure. And while discrimination certainly existed, there were also senior (male) officers who were supportive and gave credit where credit was due.
Another factor that struck me was what happened to many of the women once the war was over. A few of them stayed in what ultimately became the NSA, but most of the women left government service and started families. They rarely talked about their wartime activities and while many found their lives fulfilling, the excitement and the feeling of making a difference was something that was missing from their subsequent lives.
I highly recommend this book as an excellent resource of a little-known part of the United States war effort.



View all my reviews


2018 New Year’s Eve Dinner at Métier (Washington, DC)

As consolation for not being able to go to Hawaii over holiday break (a First World problem, I know), we celebrated New Year’s Eve with dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Métier, the younger sibling of Kinship, headed up by Chef Eric Ziebold and his wife, Celia Laurent.


To our delight, the kids decided that they would rather have dinner with their parents than hang out with their friends to celebrate the new year (I suspect us raving over the food had something to do with it).

We think Eric is one of the most gifted chefs we have ever encountered, and he certainly performed beyond our expectations once again. Once we arrived at the main dining room, we began with an Avocado Carpaccio with persimmon glaze, shaved radish, minced brioche croutons, and Ossetra caviar.

avocado carpaccio

Next up was a Russet Potato Pancake with braised quince, spiced crème fraîche, smoked salmon roe, and pumpkin coulis. Who knew something as rustic as a potato pancake could taste so elegant and delightful?

russet potato pancake

Koshikari Garlic Fried Rice with aoyagi clam ceviche, marinated bok choy, crispy shitake mushrooms, and yuzu kosho-clam broth followed. No further words are needed.

koshikari garlic fried rice

The most impressive dish of the evening was a Confit of Savoy Cabbage Agnolotti served with roasted Brussels sprouts, hazelnut broth, and Périgord truffles. The dish was impressive because to be able to create an agnolotti that tasted of essence of cabbage is a superb feat of creativity and cooking.

confit of savoy cabbage agnolotti

Chatham Bay Cod En Persillade was next, accompanied by hay smoked leeks, celery root, pickled celery branch, and Maine lobster bisque. Heavenly.

cod en persillade

And, in case you weren’t quite full enough, the Métier Borscht was served, complete with a grilled Martin Farm beef calotte, heirloom beet tapenade, tempura, and à la Grecque and beet-infused beef consommé. Amazing.

métier borscht

We ended this delightful meal with a Vanilla Olive Oil Parfait served with citrus salad, Meyer Lemon curd, blood orange sorbet, and Niçoise olive meringues. As Jim said, “For a non-chocolate dessert, this was amazing.”

vanilla olive oil parfait

Service throughout the evening was friendly, unobtrusive, and skilled. It was truly a memorable way to celebrate the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019!

Christmas 2018

Christmas 2018 will go down in the family chronicles as the Christmas with an (Over) Abundance of Lintotts. :). Jim’s mother, brother, sister-in-law, and nephew all joined us for our Christmas celebration. It was the first time in many years that the three grandchildren all spent Christmas with their grandmother, and it was lovely that everyone could be together to enjoy the holiday.

For Christmas dinner, we had been given a porchetta by some close friends, so the menu was as follows:

Porchetta
Gougères
Caesar salad (with homemade dressing)
Potatoes Anna
Wild Blackberry Pie

We hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season!

the porchetta in its “natural” state
Christmas dinner
The Lintott Family Christmas
The family Christmas lights

Book review: A Conspiracy in Belgravia by Sherry Thomas

A Conspiracy in Belgravia (Lady Sherlock, #2)A Conspiracy in Belgravia by Sherry Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second book in Sherry Thomas’s Lady Sherlock series, and I think it is even better than the first. Or, rather, the mystery is even better. The first book suffered (relatively speaking, as it was excellent) from having to set up the characters and the plot to establish the existence of a female Sherlock Holmes, and the mystery component of the book took a back seat as a result. In the second book, with the characters firmly established, the author has the luxury of further developing her characters as well as creating a mystery that is both complex and personal to the characters. The tease of Moriarty’s existence that ended the first book returns in this book, a little more front and center but still a tease.
Historical mysteries have a double burden of creating an interesting mystery and staying authentic to the period. The author has done both here. In addition, what I find so compelling about this series is that Charlotte Holmes’s voice rings so true. The Benedict Cumberbatch line in the “Sherlock” television series about being “a highly functioning sociopath” applies here as well. Charlotte’s intelligence is a relatively easy thing to write about. Charlotte’s thoughts as someone who is on the autism spectrum is not an easy thing to write, and her thoughts come across as genuine and consistent throughout the book. It is masterfully done.
I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, and I am hoping there are more books to come!
The series is best read in order.

View all my reviews

Thanksgiving 2018

We love Thanksgiving. In particular, we love hosting Thanksgiving—the more, the merrier (especially for the extroverts in the family). This year, we sat 32 people for dinner, including several new attendees! (It’s always lovely to discover new orphans to welcome to Thanksgiving as well as welcoming back returning orphans.)

Here is the complete Thanksgiving menu for this year:

Thai pumpkin soup (served with gougères)
Smoked organic turkey
Roasted organic turkey
Confit organic turkey legs
Stock-braised organic turkey legs
Deep fried organic turkey
Sous vide turkey breast with chipotle honey
Sous vide turkey breast with sage & rosemary
Roasted pork shoulder
Roast duck (from Mark’s Duck House)
Roasted beets with chimichurri sauce
Brussel sprouts with mustard and brown sugar sauce
Chickpea, arugula, and picked carrot salad
Sweet potato and star fruit chaat
Mom’s stuffing (from the Lintott side of the family)
Jamaican rice stuffing
Country ham stuffing
Smashed potatoes
Orange-cranberry sauce
Lemon-pomegranate cranberry sauce
Kimchi
Rice
Gravy
Dinner rolls
Chocolate-pumpkin cheesecake
Wild blackberry pie (berries from Washington state)
Apple pie
Sponge cake with cranberry curd
Cranberry orange shortbread
Divinity and nut brittle

smoked turkey

roasted turkey

deep fried turkey

the spread from one end

the spread (from the other end)

We hope everyone who came enjoyed the festivities, and we further hope that all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Book review: Devil’s Brood by Sharon Kay Penman

Devil's Brood (Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine, #3)Devil’s Brood by Sharon Kay Penman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sharon Penman is one of my favorite authors (she ranks up there with Jane Austen and J.R.R. Tolkien) and certainly my favorite author of historical fiction. Devil’s Brood describes the internecine warfare and deteriorating family relationships of the sons of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. (The Plantagenets make the Kardashians look like a stable and wholesome family.)
Every good historical fiction author does impeccable research and brings to life real life characters. What this author does that is head and shoulders above the rest is to imbue each character–whether primary, secondary, or tertiary–with a sense of believability and humanity. The characters are accessible, heroic, and flawed. You come away from reading this book knowing this version of events is how history actually unfolded and that truth has emerged from the author’s pen.
For those interested in medieval British history or historical fiction in general, check out Sharon Penman’s works. The Plantagenet saga is best read in order.

View all my reviews

Eagle Scout Court of Honor

Becoming an Eagle Scout is the pinnacle of a Boy Scout’s career and only a small fraction of those who start out in Boy Scouts achieve it. We are the proud parents of an Eagle Scout whose Court of Honor was held on October 22.
But, first, an aside. The Court of Honor is the ceremony honoring an Eagle Scout’s achievement, but, first, the Eagle Scout-to be must pass a Board of Review in order to obtain the rank of Eagle Scout. Jim has been the primary mover-and-shaker in Marcus’s Boy Scout journey. He takes Marcus to most Boy Scout meetings, accompanied him on campouts when he was young, and encouraged/cajoled/ordered Marcus to stay with Scouts when he wavered, as all boys do. We were in Paris when Marcus had his Board of Review, and woke up in the middle of the night (3:17 am to be exact) to a 20 second voicemail on *my* phone. The first 15 seconds were in Chinese when Marcus told me he passed his Board of Review and that he knew it was late but to please call him back. The last 5 seconds were in English when he said, “Daddy, if you’re listening to this, I made Eagle.” I’m so glad our son gave credit where credit was due. 🙂
For Troop #128, this was only the 3rd or 4th Court of Honor where *four* Eagle Scouts were honored. And Marcus showed an uncommon maturity and internal validation system during and after the ceremony. As part of a Court of Honor, an adult—most commonly the Eagle Scout counselor—says a few words about the Eagle Scout and his accomplishments. Due to a miscommunication, no one spoke about Marcus although the other 3 Eagle Scouts were lauded. Marcus’s reaction on what happened: “I was confused, but it wasn’t important. My family and friends know what I did. And I’m an Eagle Scout—that’s all that matters.”
I do not think there are many 17 year olds, after going through all that work and all that effort, who wouldn’t have been disappointed that they weren’t praised for their accomplishments. And so we are extremely proud of our son, who already knows to look inside himself for the true worth of his actions.

Eagle Scout Court of Honor

officially deemed an Eagle Scout!

with Congresswoman Barbara Comstock

Court of Honor speech

Troop #128 Eagle Scouts!