URLs Du Jour (8/18/2005)

  • The WaPo chronicles the demise of "healthy" items at restaurant chains.

    The national restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday added a low-fat Blueberry D'Lite yogurt parfait to its menu more than a year ago to capitalize on the apparent growing appetite among consumers for healthful fare. The parfait joined more than 40 better-for-you offerings, along with listings of calorie and fat contents for everything on the menu. … But diners didn't bite. So Ruby Tuesday has eliminated the Blueberry D'Lite, along with several other healthful dishes ditched after a lengthy period of slumping sales at the chain. Calorie and fat information was dropped except on the healthful items that survived and were moved to the back of the menu.

    Not that I care what happens at Ruby Tuesday; I've been to one in Portland, Maine, and one in Orlando, Florida, got crappy service and mediocre food both times, so I won't be back. Other than that, however, when reading the article … it's like they're looking over my shoulder when I dine out. I think (or maybe I'd like to think) I'd look for healthier restaurant food if I did it more often. But if it's a once-a-week thing, I'm usually successfully tempted to spend my money on something I'll really enjoy. Which usually means something with lots of calories, fat, and salt.

  • I usually have a less-than-ideal shopping experience when I go to the local Wal-Mart, but (unlike Ruby Tuesday), I always go back; good prices and decent selection trump their inept and surly staff. (But, hey, if you work at Wal-Mart, I'm sure I'm not talking about you. I've probably just been unlucky.) And I'm glad to have Wal-Mart as an option. A good column at Tech Central Station my Ryan Sager details how the good citizens of New York City are being protected against the evils of Wal-Mart.

    What Wal-Mart's opponents can't win through organizing or in the marketplace, it seems, they now seek to achieve through the raw exercise of political power.

    Read the article to find out how that works, and how it works to the ultimate disadvantage of the little guys. (You mean the leprechauns? Why, yes I do.)

  • Also at TCS, an excellent essay from Tim Worstall on the proper attitude toward politicians:

    My reaction to politicians tends to wander around a little between what I consider to be the only three possible options. Laugh at them, ignore them, or experience a (so far repressed) desire to have them tap dancing on air from the nearest lamp-post.

    Read the whole thing, and then …

  • Repeat after me: "Interfolded delicatessen paper."

Last Modified 2012-10-26 10:06 AM EDT

Sanjuro

[Amazon Link] [3.0 stars] [IMDb Link]

Another Kurosawa movie with Toshiro Mifune as the title character. He's a world-weary bad-tempered Samurai who decides to save a hapless group of do-gooders trying to weed out corruption in their little town.

Unfortunately, the do-gooders' adversaries turn out to be much more dangerous than they thought. And the do-gooders ae very inept at working in a world of danger and intrigue. Humor and mayhem result.

I have to admit: the movie did not hold my unflagging interest. And (as long as I'm admitting things) the "they all look alike" effect is strong here, so I got confused a lot about what was going on. I may have to give it another chance someday.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 9:54 AM EDT

A Very Long Engagement

[Amazon Link] [4.0 stars] [IMDb Link]

This is an honest to goodness classy movie, in French. Fun to watch with Mrs. Salad, who speaks French, and pointed out numerous discrepancies between the dialog and the subtitles. Stars Audrey Tatou as Mathilde, and I think I'd watch just about anything she was in.

Mathilde's boyfriend is one of five French soldiers being sent to their near-certain doom as punishment for trying to get sent home by self-wounding. (Although one of the guys was simply trying to hit an overly-friendly rat with his loaded pistol; apparently his superiors didn't think anyone could be so stupid.) But Mathilde doesn't believe her boyfriend actually perished, so the movie is the story of her efforts to find out what really happened.

If anyone needs to be reminded about War being Hell, this is a pretty good movie for that. Depictions of WWI trench warfare are as grim as it gets.

Also chilling is a scene where a hospital has been set up in a blimp hangar. Complete with a hydrogen-filled blimp. You don't have to be psychic to predict what's gonna happen there.

Jodie Foster has a small role. I didn't know she was in it at all, and said: "Geez, that looks a lot like Jodie Foster." Credits roll, and: "Oh, it was."

Among all the bleakness, there are major welcome touches of whimsy. Mathilde plays the tuba, often. When she needs sympathy, she'll put herself in a wheelchair; when she's done, she rises, saying "It doesn't only happen at Lourdes." When the family's flatulent canine lets one go, Mathilde's mom responds with a small smile, and says to herself: "Doggie fart, gladdens my heart." (Mrs. Salad informs me this doesn't rhyme in French, but it should, shouldn't it?)


Last Modified 2012-10-26 9:54 AM EDT