Triathlete’s Ruin, Part 1

June 8, 2009

Trimom and I scored a babysitter and went out to dinner last night at Nanakusa, one of our top three favorite places to eat in the United States. (The others are Trattoria Stefano in Sheboygan and Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa. More on those in a future post.)

Nanakusa has unbelieveably creative kitchen dishes. Last night, for example, we had a special salmon roll; lightly seared thin-cut salmon wrapped around parmagiano reggiano cheese and asparagus and topped with a citrus marmalade. Beautiful. They had tempura-battered live soft-shell crab and an amazing crab rangoon roll that is so good it should be illegal.

Of course, they have amazing sushi and sashimi, too. Fatty tuna, powerful mackerel, buttery flounder and perfect salmon are just some of the highlights, and their sushi and sashimi menu is updated every day.

Most of the wait staff has been there for years, which is, in my opinion, one of the hallmarks of a good restaurant. Carlene, Kerstin, Michelle, Erica, Heather and Carrie have been around a long time, a few of them since I started going to Nanakusa seven years ago.

Richard, the owner, is also the patissier, and does great desserts; an espresso/chocolate/vanilla creme brulee trio, a chocolate coconut macadamia nut pie, and an amazing three-chocolate layered “terrine.”

Finally, the bar is manned ably by Jason, the kind of barkeep who starts chilling our martini glasses the minute we walk in the door, and who remembers our favorite drinks and how we like them.

This is, occasionally, a problem.

I have NOT been drinking alcohol much during training, and in the last month, I probably haven’t touched a drop. Until last night. We had to wait a few minutes for a table, so we sat at the bar. Jason asked, not “what would you like?” but “would you like a Vesper?” In a moment of weakness, I agreed. Three parts gin, one part vodka, splash of vermouth, shaken with a twist.

We sat at the bar with our drinks, and were presently shown to our table. Just after ordering appetizers, I realized I felt strange. Kind of woozy, light-headed, even a little flushed. I thought, “damn, I can’t be getting sick, can I?” Then my eyes wobbily scanned the table to my half-consumed martini. There was something relevant there, dammit, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Then I realized; I was drunk.

Half a martini and I was in the bag. The formula worked something like this – (Zero alcohol consumed in 30 days plus Metabolism at elevated levels due to training = Fat Triathlete is a cheaper date than a novice nun).

Luckily, I kept my head (sort of) I didn’t do or say anything foolish (I think) and I didn’t order a second drink. I drank lots of water, but fell asleep a little worried about how I’d feel in the morning, especially because Trimom and I were planning on riding the bike course the next day.

To be continued…

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Up with “Up”

June 1, 2009

I went to see Up tonight with Trimom and the girls.

Wow.

On paper, this was a movie that shouldn’t have worked. Pixar movies have featured bugs, toys, race cars, monsters, superheroes, robots and talking fish. This movie was a human story. The lead character is an old man, and the first ten minutes of the film are exposition about this man growing up and growing old. Aside from the iconic flying house suspended under thousands of balloons, this isn’t a movie powered by stunning visuals. Oh sure, the settings are gorgeous and beautifully rendered, but Up doesn’t feature the mind-boggling images of Wall-E or the wholly created worlds of Monsters Inc. or Cars.

What this movie does have in common with all the other Pixar films is an amazing story. With his house threatened by urban development and with the retirement home looming, Carl Fredricksen launches his house into the sky by means of thousands of helium balloons. Russell, an annoyingly eager Cub Scout, accidently comes along for the ride. They head to South America to fulfill Carl’s lifelong dream of adventure and excitement, long delayed by day-to-day life. There, they run into rare birds, talking dogs and a legendary figure from Carl’s childhood.

You feel great empathy for Carl and Russell, not because they are designed as empathetic characters, but because their stories are so compelling. You deeply care for these two strange characters. The plot is simple but powerful, and the themes are stated subtly and well. One primary theme of the story is lettting go of life’s emotional burdens, and that note is hit both narratively and visually in powerful but never obvious ways.

Go see this movie. It’s a beautiful story, funny and touching and very human.

I3A,

FT