Roslindale Scoop: Himalayan Bistro Coming to the Neighborhood

Update 3/16/09: I recently heard (from the restaurant) that the Roslindale location for Himalayan Bistro was in doubt. I suppose in this economy there are no sure bets.

I have it on very good authority* that our favorite Indian/Nepali restaurant, Himalayan Bistro, is coming to Roslindale (from West Roxbury), into the oft-turned-over location last assigned to NuVo, and Gusto before that. Perhaps the third “-o” restaurant will be a charm. Assuming they serve up the same superlative food and atmosphere as the West Roxbury location, I’m sure this one will be a keeper. (My only concern is that having the two restaurants so close to each other may result in self-competition.)

*Authority = Himalayan Bistro delivery guy. You don’t get much more authoritative than that.

In other Roslindale Restaurant news, we heard via RVMS recently that Robyn’s Bar and Grill has changed hands to the owners of the Halfway Cafe in Dedham, which could be a change for the better. Roslindale did not need another pizza/sports-bar, and still does not need one, although maybe that’s all the Robyn’s location will ever be. Even more recently, however, we heard an unconfirmed rumor from a neighbor that the sale fell through and Robyn’s is not changing owners.

In other potentially disappointing news, the Roslindale Emac and Bolio’s has changed owners again, this time to a co-owner of the Blue Star Restaurant. I want to like Blue Star, but they can’t seem to get the most basic short-order cooking tasks right. A diner must, first and foremost, deliver greasy food fast, hot, and at the same time for the entire group. At worst, serve the kids first. It also helps for the food to be consistent. Blue Star in our experience (many visits) only occasionally satisfies the basic diner requirements, much less delivers any sort of creative urban-chic reinterpretation of the classic retro diner. (By contrast, Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown is our current Greater Boston favorite — it’s always a good sign when a greasy spoon also actively caters to vegans.)

Which brings me to Emac and Bolio’s, which apparently will be renamed “Select Café.” First, why give up the goodwill associated with the Emac’s trademark? Second, the initial signs of the change-over are not promising. A handwritten sign posted in the window announces that the cafe is under new management, and (1) no credit or debit cards will be accepted and (2) no Emac and Bolio’s gift certificates will be honored. I’d love to be proved wrong about this, but I’m pessimistic that this is going to be the Change We Need in Roslindale — namely, a top rate artisanale snobby espresso shop. We can only hope that Simon’s, Flatblack, Cafe Nation, Diesel, or another of their ilk will come occupy one of the vacant storefronts on the courtyard. That we have any vacancies at all in the square, much less several, is a crime against humanity.

[Tags]Roslindale, Restaurants[/Tags]

Missing the Show

Seeing John Hodgman in Flight of the Conchords reminded me of this. Does anyone else miss the show? It’s hard to believe it finished less than a year-and-a-half ago. Seems like ancient new-media history now.

A favorite episode from long before the Scrabulous kerfuffle: Scrabble.
[Tags]The Show, Flight of the Conchords, John Hodgman[/Tags]

I’m Not There *****

Unlike Steve (who walked out before the end!), I loved I’m Not There. It worked so well for me precisely because it was only half-coherent. Like Dylan’s own music, you’re never really sure if it’s deeper than you can possibly grasp, just a cosmic joke, or maybe both. Cate Blanchett nearly steals the show as the only fully Dylan-esque Dylan, but 13-year-old Marcus Carl Franklin is a close runner up (below with Richie Havens):

[Tags]Dylan, I’m Not There, Music, Film[/Tags]

“Free” Books

Via Lifehacker, legal cost-free books under copyright from Wowio. This is a great idea, and I give it even odds for being the future of books. (Or at least, part of books’ future).

What is WOWIO?
WOWIO is a new kind of online bookstore that enables readers to download ebooks for free, using commercial sponsorships to compensate authors and publishers. Readers get free ebooks. Sponsors get a powerful new channel to communicate their message to precisely the people they want to reach. Publishers get a new means of distributing their books, expanding their readership, and monetizing their intellectual property.

Does WOWIO use any kind of digital rights management (DRM)?
Since anyone can defeat the most “sophisticated” DRM with the print screen button, we believe that technology-based DRM is essentially a fraud. Our approach takes the market incentive out of misbehaving, rewards people for doing the right thing, and tries to stay out of the way of honest users. To help keep everyone honest, however, readers must authenticate their identity and agree to a licensing agreement when they set up their account. Then, each ebook is serialized with the reader’s authenticated name and a unique serial number, as well as other less visible markers. WOWIO will immediately terminate the account of anyone caught illegally distributing ebooks, and will prosecute serious offenders.

[Tags]Wowio, Books, DRM, Digital Rights Management, Copyright[/Tags]

The Onion Video is the New SNL

Growing up for the most part in the 1980’s, Saturday Night Live was the funniest regularly scheduled part of my week. It’s either gotten less funny over the years, or I’ve changed. Probably both.

One of the biggest problems SNL faces is that it must fill ninety minutes every week, although these days if you subtract out ads, music, and other filler/transitional material,  I expect it’s only thirty to forty minutes of actual comedy. Either way, a lot of SNL skits go on longer than necessary to deliver their comic payload. I expect this was actually true in the 1980’s as well, but I didn’t notice it so much.

Enter The Onion and its video content.  Freed from the confines of the television programming schedule, the Onion can make its online video clips just exactly as long as the writers want, and release them on their own schedule. In recent months, they’ve been batting in the high 800s. E.g., Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results of 2008 Election Early (on a serious note, see Ed Felten’s recent Sequoia discovery and followup); Army Holds Annual ‘Bring Your Daughter to War’ Day. Or any of them, really.

White House Press Secretary Spins Wife’s Tragic Death As A Positive

Army Holds Annual ‘Bring Your Daughter To War’ Day

My only complaint about The Onion video content is that they have only one sponsor at any given time, and they make you watch the same exact ad (both as a short pre-mercial and a longer post-mercial) every time you watch a video. The repetition isn’t effective and I can’t imagine it’s the best use of the Onion’s advertising revenue. I suggest at least rotation ads — or better yet, only forcing an ad on the viewer after every nth video.

Thanks to Steve and Flour for the key insight about clip-length.

[Tags]The Onion, Saturday Night Live[/Tags]

The Best Movie to Start at 11pm at the End of a Long Trial…

Anatomy of a Murder. David Denby put it best:

Otto Preminger’s “Anatomy of a Murder,” from 1959, is still the best courtroom drama ever made in this country, and, in its occasional forays out of the court, among the finest evocations of place—an Upper Peninsula Michigan resort area in the off-season, leafless, underpopulated, alcoholic, and forlorn. James Stewart, in one of his wonderful melancholy “late” performances, plays a former county prosecutor named Biegler, a lifelong bachelor who now spends his time with a non-practicing lawyer (Arthur O’Connell) and an unpaid secretary (Eve Arden), who sticks around for the wisecracks. The movie is leisurely, detailed, realistic, intensely companionable; you get a sense of how people exist at the margins of a profession without losing their dignity.

Although there are some distinctions between a murder defense in the 1950’s in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and modern-day patent litigation, the essence of trial technique is really not all that different.  Highly recommended.

Prosecutor: Lieutenant Manion, wasn’t your action against Barney Quill much the same thing as your action against Miller or the Lieutenant you slapped at the cocktail party — all done in the heat of anger, with a willful, conscious desire to hurt or kill?

Defendant: I don’t remember my action against Quill.

Prosecutor: How long had you known your wife was stepping out with Quill?

Defendant: I never knew anything like that. I trust my wife.

Prosecutor: You just occasionally beat her up for the fun of it, I suppose?

Defense Counsel: There has been nothing established to permit a question like that. He keeps trying to insinuate without ever coming to the point. Let him ask the Lieutenant, did he ever beat his wife.

Judge: I will sustain the objection. Do you want to re-phrase your question, Mr. Dancer?

Prosecutor: No thank you, Your Honor. I’ve finished.

[Tags]Otto Preminger, Anatomy of a Murder, David Denby[/Tags]

The Song of the Day is…

Liberation Dance from the curiously-difficult-to-find album Anthem for the New Nations (yes, that’s CDN$97.18!) by Dollar Brand.

Unfortunately, I can only share a taste (mp3, ogg).

How music this good could be out of print is beyond me.

[Tags]Dollar Brand, Abdullah Ibrahim, Jazz, Anthem for the New Nations, Liberation Dance[/Tags]

Update: I added the Google embedded Mp3 player as an experiment and resampled the MP3. Apparently the Google MP3 player can only play files at 44.1 KHz correctly.

Doonesbury on Pandora

A sign of cultural permeation: both Doonesbury and my father have discovered Pandora.

[Tags]Pandora, Doonesbury[/Tags]

Success as a Parent

Success as a parent is when your two year old recognizes and demands, at various times, Joni Mitchell, Paul McCartney (particular tracks), They Might Be Giants, and the White Stripes. And when she knows how to operate her own portable CD player and navigate your cell phone photo library.

These are skills that the Class of 2026 is going to need.

Smooth Velouria Espresso

I just discovered the recently-opened Velouria Espresso in Jamaica Plain via this subscribers-only article in the Atlantic. Velouria marks the latest arrival in the single-origin coffee movement pioneered by George Howell. In a nutshell, the idea of single-origin coffee beans is that if beans are identified with a particular region (or even particular grower), the farmers will have more incentive to distinguish themselves. Ultimately, coffee beans will be known like fine wines, and the best growers will earn premium prices (thus bringing even more money to underdeveloped areas than coffee sold as fair-trade). Flatblack Coffee Company, near my office, operates under similar principles. More details in this episode of On Point with George Howell.

Velouria distinguishes itself with its focus on brewed coffee rather than espresso (although they have plenty of that as well). The shop features the “Clover” coffee machine (“Bring out the subtle nuances of all of your coffees through complete, independent control of all of the important brew parameters: grind size, dose, water temperature, and contact time.”)

I got a cappucino and a single-origin Kenyan coffee made with the Clover Machine. (Actually, two distinct single-origin Kenyan coffees, which Steve surreptitiously swapped on me while I wasn’t looking). They were all excellent.

My cappucino started with a little foam heart in the crema:


Amazingly, even when it was finished, the heart was still faintly visible:


Steve enjoyed his espresso as well:


Velouria has no website that I could find. it’s at 389 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02131. Beware the Yelp page as it has inaccurate hours information — just call them at (617) 522-2400 if you’re wondering if they’re open.

Now if we could only get a place like this in one of the vacant storefronts in Roslindale

[tags]Coffee, espresso, flatblack, single origin, velouria espresso, Boston[/tags]