Published on: August 4, 2017
Last Friday, I made a quick trip from Portland, Oregon - where I am enjoying my annual summer adjunctivity, team-teaching a business marketing class at Portland State University - up to Seattle, for the most important reason imaginable.
No, Amazon Go hadn't been opened to the public.
No, Jeff Bezos hadn't offered me an exclusive interview.
Yes ... the New York Mets were in town, as they are every three years, to play the Seattle Mariners at beautiful Safeco Field. And I have priorities.
I jumped on the Amtrak to Seattle, and less than four hours later, I checked into my hotel and got ready to kill some time before heading to the ballgame. So I did what I always do when I have time in Seattle (and even when I don't) ... I went to Etta's, one of my favorite places, to see Morgan, my favorite bartender on the planet.
I've been going to Etta's long enough that I don't even really have to order when I sit in my favorite seat at the far left end of the bar. Morgan sees me, does a quick calculation (time of day, weather, mood), and just pours me whatever wine he thinks is appropriate. Last Friday, it was the 2016 Le Saint André Rosé ... a wonderfully light and refreshing wine from France that was perfect for a day that was a little warm. (Though not as warm as Portland has been this week when it has gotten over 100 degrees.)
Next up was a light meal; I wanted to leave room to eat at the ballpark, but I was famished. So I had one of my favorite meals ... Etta's makes this amazing sashimi, served with warm scallion pancakes. (You can see a picture at right.) It was delicious, and after I'd cleaned my plate and drained a couple of glasses of wine, I was ready to walk to the ballpark ... it is about a mile and a half away, the weather was good, and I figured I'd work up an appetite.
I told Morgan I was heading out, and he offered a suggestion. Don't get a hot dog inside the ballpark, he said. Instead, stop at one of the carts outside and order a hot dog served with grilled onions, yellow mustard, dill relish ... and cream cheese.
Okay, I have to admit that the last ingredient threw me. Cream cheese? Really?
Morgan reassured me, saying that he once was skeptical, too, but that this was a Seattle tradition. (In fact, the carts call it a "Seattle Dog.")
Well, I'm a "when in Rome" kind of guy, so I got over my skepticism and when I arrived at the ballpark, limping a bit because of a balky knee, I found a cart and ordered a Seattle Dog. (Picture at right.)
It was amazing. I never would've dreamed it, but the ingredients actually work together incredibly well. I may have to start making hot dogs at home that way.
Inside, I settled for a beer that I nursed through a few innings - a Silver City Ridgetop Red Ale, as it happens, that had enough caramel to give it body but was light enough to make it wonderful on a summer night watching a baseball game.
Life was good. And then the Mets won, 7-5, in what would end up being their only win of the series.
But the weekend wasn't over.
The next day, I was back on Amtrak to Portland. And on Sunday, I went to the 30th Annual Oregon Brewers Festival, held in Waterfront Park, on the banks of the Willamette River. In the name of journalistic research - as the Content Guy, I have certain sacred responsibilities - I tried a number of craft beers. (Picture above right.) Like the Knuckle Buster Strong Red, from Terminal Gravity Brewing. (Very tasty.) The Bloody Well Wit, from the Old Market Pub and Brewery. (Light, but good on a summer day.)n Kilted Destroyer IPA, from Two Kilts Brewing. (The name says it all.) And, the beer that ended up being my favorite - the Blood Orange Wheat, from Full Sail Brewing. (I'm not a huge fan of fruity beers, but this one used the blood orange to sharpen the taste without overwhelming the beer, and I loved it.)
I didn't just eat and drink last weekend. I also finished Michael Connelly's new novel, "The Late Show," and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Connelly, one of the best novelists working today, is known for the Harry Bosch series of novels, which follow the exploits of a Los Angeles-based police detective with a finely honed sense of justice and a simmering sense of outrage when the system doesn't work for everyone. "The Late Show" is the first in a new series, featuring Renée Ballard, a female detective working the midnight shift in LA;'s Hollywood Division. Ballard has been banished to "the late show" because she rejected and then complained about sexual harassment by a superior officer, but while angry about her treatment, she remains committed to her job and determined not to knuckle under to the pressure.
"The Late Show" is page-turner of a novel, fast paced and highly detailed as it follows Ballard in her investigation of - and increasing investment in - two disparate cases. One of the things about Connelly is that he brings you deep inside the system, using terms and acronyms that give his work enormous authenticity. "The Late Show" is no exception, and I can't wait to see where Connelly takes this new character.
One note. One of novelist Robert B. Parker's missteps, I've always thought, was when he wrote a series of novels about a female detective, Sunny Randall. It's not that men can't write about women, but Parker did his with a first person narrative, which is what he used when writing his iconic Spenser novels. But using the third person, Connelly avoids this trap ... and "The Late Show" seems utterly real.
"The Late Show" is great stuff. Read it.
Speaking of female protagonists ... I saw Atomic Blonde, a new movie about a Cold War-era female spy for Britain's MI6, that stars Charlize Theron.
I really wanted to like Atomic Blonde, but was a little disappointed because it seemed to stress style over substance. I guess I was hoping for a film that was a little more Bourne-like, but instead it seemed more concerned with setting up and then executing a series of set pieces - mostly Theron in major hand-to-hand combat, giving as good as she gets - than delving into character and plot. That's too bad, because the movie could've been a lot better.
The cast, however, is terrific. Theron is the very definition of female empowerment, and she is ably supported by James McEvoy, Sofia Boutella, Toby Jones and John Goodman.
I suspect that Atomic Blonde will work for some audiences, but it didn't quite work for me.
That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.