Tipping Point: Our picks and pans (John Connolly, Breakwater restaurant, Jim Gaffigan)
"The Nameless Ones"
It's a tribute to Connolly and his darkly wonderful and complex Charlie Parker titles that this latest, the 19th in the series, is creepy, enlightening, stunningly researched, evocative and cloaked in heightening menace — and yet Parker himself has only a very brief cameo role. The focus this time is on his trusted cohorts, Angel and Louis, a master thief and a hitman, respectively (though they have a sense of honor and a solid if odd moral code). They're traipsing across Belgium, London, Belgrade and the Netherlands on a mission of vengeance that twists through various Slavic civil wars, mob territories and further bits of intrigue — and, yes, throw in a witch. The amount of history and backstory is fascinating — the Slavic names can be a bit confusing but hang in there — and the evolution of Angel and Louis in real-time is haunting.
— Rick Koster
I've been longing to return to Breakwater since sampling some of the outstanding food during The Day's Chefs, Cocktails and Conversation event. We made early reservations for a Thursday and settled into a window booth. Post-pandemic, the restaurant is open Wednesday-Sunday and, in addition to its regular menu, has a prix fixe special. Based on the entree, the fixed price is either $29 or $39. I went for it, while my wife Betty ordered the grilled salmon special. For my first course, I picked potato croquettes, and thankfully there was enough to share. Other options might be soup, salad, corn fritters or oysters. For my main course, I went with the fried chicken and grits. Other $29 offerings might be tacos, ravioli or shrimp and pasta. The higher-priced entrees might include salmon, swordfish and steak. The menu changes weekly and is usually posted on Facebook. Nothing disappointed, particulary the appetizer and the desserts (blueberry bread pudding for me, chocolate flourless cake for Betty). With prices and COVID fear on the rise, it can be easy to forgo dinner out, but for us, this was a visit we want to repeat soon.
— Tim Cotter
"Jim Gaffigan — Comedy Monster"
Yes, it DOES seem as though Gaffigan can crank out comedy specials with an uncanny speed and agility — so much so that, even though I'm a loyal fan, I set out to watch this latest with a bit of trepidation. How long can his famously G-rated, Everyman's Foibles brand of observational humor stay fresh? The answer is hinted at in the special's title. This is a darker, meaner Gaffigan, as also emphasized by his famous "Greek chorus" alternative voice that keeps saying, "You're a monster!" in response to yet another (relatively) evil bit. Well, hell, I for one am happy to see a small hint of Bill Burr or Jim Jeffries peek out from Gaffigan's persona. Don't worry: there's no outright viciousness going on. It's just that The World is wearing all of us down — even the Good Guys. It's remarkably invigorating and somehow comforting to watch Gaffigan get gently testy, and his tirade about high school marching bands goes straight to his greatest hits catalog.
— Rick Koster
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There's still plenty of mat drama, and Navarro is deep in preparations for Nationals and headed for a showdown with rivals Trinity Valley Community College when COVID-19 hits and shuts down everything in its wake.