Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Movie Clip Wednesdays: Best Buddy Movie

Not much time today since I'm buried in work and trying to meet impossible deadlines (which, when all is said and done, actually in fact end up being possible, but while I'm in the thick of it, everything is just so sturm und drang), so just a quick explantion.

This is one of my favorite movies of all time, not so much because I'm all that big a fan of Marilyn Monroe (mixing childlike helplessness with smoldering sexuality isn't interesting, it's manipulative and kind of gross), but because I'm a huge fan of Anita Loos, upon whose novel of the same name the movie is based. The film isn't nearly as biting as the book (and Monroe's Lorelei is nowhere near as distasteful as her literary counterpart), but it still touches on some interesting themes and it's worth a repeat watch for the musical numbers, the clothes, and the contrast in look and temperament between Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe.

Head on over to Milk River Madman's place to see what other folks chose.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Deep Fry Everything

If you make it known that you are into food in any way, shape, or form, someone will eventually ask you the question: What would you eat as your last meal?

It's a question to which I have never been able to provide a satisfactory answer. If I say my mom's green chile chicken enchilada casserole then I'd feel like I was cheating on the perfectly cooked rib eye with garlic mashed potatoes, which would make me feel bad for fois gras and soft-shelled crab from the Chesapeake Bay, not to mention my aunt's baked spaghetti. To me, this is like asking if I could wear only one pair of shoes for the rest of my life or drive only one kind of car or marry only . . . (um, never mind on that score). Suffice it to say, I've never been able to come up with just one thing.

Until now.

Now, I do believe I can say with certainty that if I only had one night left on earth and some kind and intrepid soul helped me fill it with my fill of something good to eat, it would at this point have to be a big ol' plate of Jennifer James' fried oysters with basil aïoli.

Last night, S.B. and I got prettied up and went to eat at what I believe is one of the very few restaurants in Albuquerque 100 percent focused on making serious food, without being overly precious about it. Jennifer James 101 is the third restaurant owned and operated by a gal whose dedication to her craft has earned her near-rock star status as a chef. Certainly, given her accolades, she doesn't need to spend hours on end each night in front of her stove, cooking and plating almost every dish that hits the tables, but she does, which means when you eat at Jennifer James 101, you are literally eating her cooking.

I wish I'd taken a picture, those oysters were so beautiful. The waiter said they came from Washington, plucked out of some bay whose name I don't remember, but their girth made me wonder what the heck all those hippies are dumping in the water up there. Because when it comes to fried oysters, size does matter. One of the most pleasurable sensations in the world is biting through a crunchy crust of deep fried batter (tempura-style in this case, not corn mealed) to hit that distinctive, briny/sweet pillow of plump that is a perfectly cooked oyster. Add some garlic and pesto mayo for contrast and you've got heaven on a plate.

Oh, for the main course, we ordered the wild boar, cooked pot-roast style and coated with a fragrant red wine and rosemary sauce, served with polenta (cooked to resemble mashed potatoes), grilled radicchio, and dice-sized chunks of Gorgonzola. Which was equally divine. As well as amusing. Because nothing breaks the ice with an overly-earnest server like asking where, exactly, Ms. Jennifer James shot her piggy.

Still, I would have traded it all for one more plate. Of those oysters.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Movie Clip Wednesdays: Favorite Foreign Actor

Milk River Madman hosts Movie Clip Wednesdays and his theme for this week is Favorite Foreign Actor. Which had me thinking: does he mean man or woman, or will there be a separate, future theme titled Favorite Foreign Actress? Hmm.

Regardless, I have quite a few favorites on both sides of the fence. Helen Mirren, for one, not only because she is one of the few over 60 (hell, over 40!) women working in film today, but also because she makes no bones about fighting the aging process kicking and screaming, yet she manages to do it with such panache, I can't tell if she's had work done or not. Gal's a total class act.

Charlotte Rampling is another. Her performance was the only good thing about the terrible, terrible Swimming Pool, and we American ladies should take a lesson from this cat-eyed, right-angled beauty on how to hone not only our looks, but also our wit and intelligence.

Then there's Penelope Cruz, who is easy to dismiss as just another hot tamale, but who nevertheless always blows me away with her performances. To me, she is one of the most interesting women working in film today.

And don't even get me started on Catherine Deneuve. I. Con.

But, let's talk about men, shall we? I have my "classic" favorites: Peter O'Toole (Lawrence of Arabia is one of my favorite films of all time and he is simply stunning in all senses of the word in it), Ian McKellan, Alec Guinness, Sean Connery. And newbies like Clive Owen and Daniel Craig, while not necessarily great actors, are great looking in that they have very commanding presences on screen that make them interesting to watch. Then there's Javier Bardem who, seriously, really needs to return my phone calls.

Ewan McGregor almost filled this spot for me. He's unbelievably versatile and has virtually no fear on screen. He can go from wimpy sentimentality to serial killer stoniness to rock and roll enfant terrible in what seems like a blink of an eye. Plus, he's the only gent working today who isn't afraid of full frontal anything. Just sayin' . . .

Still, in the end, I went with who to me is far and away one of the greatest actors currently working in ANY country: Anthony Hopkins. Yeah, he's most famous for Hannibal Lector, but my hands down, absolute favorite performance of his is his turn as New Zealander Burt Munro in The World's Fastest Indian. Munro spent years building a 1920 Indian motorcycle and then ran it to a land-speed world record at Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats in 1967. If you haven't seen this movie, go rent it NOW.

P.S. Double click on this so you can watch it at full size. I can't figure out why my embedded videos are getting cut off . . .

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Suppose You Were An Idiot

And suppose you were a member of Congress.
But I repeat myself.

* * *

It's quotes like that, that make this:

The literary event of the year.

So, tell Moi: What's your favorite Mark Twain quote?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Crack that Whip

For the past 15 years, 9 months, and 2 weeks, S.B.'s primary role in this here relationship, other than looking cute, has been to:

1. lift every single car we own, ever will own, and are even thinking of owning, at least three inches higher off the ground

2. poke fun at me

3. make it up to me by buying me Chanel

Until last week, when he decided to add race pacer to the list. Here I was, thinking I was going to have the Duke City Half Marathon all to my slow-ass self, enjoying the scenery and planning fall outfits in my head, and now I'm going to have him along to drill sergeant me into actually meeting my time goal, which, until last week, I didn't even know I had.

S.B.: "So, what's your goal for this race?"

Moi: "Um . . . to finish?"

S.B.: Rolls eyes. "I mean, your pace, your goal pace?"

Moi: "Um."

S.B. gets up to go get his calculator, starts doing engineer type things to the buttons, and determines that I'm going to shoot for 2 hours, 17 minutes, or a 10:30 minute mile. Or however the math works out, I can't remember. Something like that. And he'll be right there beside me to make sure I meet it, even if he has to tie a rope around my waist and drag me there.

Well. At least there will be pancakes afterward.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Movie Clip Wednesdays: Best Black and White Film

Fritz Lang's Metropolis.

This was made in 1927 and to me it still stands as one of the most beautifully and powerfully made Sci-Fi films ever. Set in a dystopian future in which a class of have-nots live underground toiling away so that the haves may live their lavish lives above ground, its influence can be seen in everything from Apple's original Macintosh commercial to Madonna's "Express Yourself" music video to the Matrix. It's now fully restored with previously lost footage and looks better than ever.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Taking the Gods to Task

Rolling hilled Appalachians

Oldest mountains in the world

Dense with pine, fir, beech, and maple

Civilization brings monster kudzu sculptures
Roadside memorials

Pride groomed lawns waving stars and stripes

Neat knoll-top churches

Jesus saved for Sundays

The basset hound bitch at the corner store

Drowsy in her sun-warmed patch of concrete

Ambles up to greet three strangers looking for Chickory.

We are found instead

Here she comes bouncing up in her vintage Ford

Impish smile and glinting aviators

Trout watchful at her side

Tail thump-thump-thumping

Back home to a place held tight against her heart

Pretty as a picture

Fresh as a daisy

Country cozy under arcs of canopy

Serenaded by songbird, creek, and chicks

Underfoot pecking and fussing

Vera, Wren, Peggy Jean, and Easter

The ground a carpet of tiny treasures

Delicate stands of unnamed purple flowers

Miniature mushrooms made giant by ants

Garden sweet and tempting

Lettuces accompanying

Pecan crusted brook trout and mom's mac and cheese

Sleep comes like a hammer to the head.

Morning arrives just as sudden

Air crisp and hills blue green

Up and down the mountain

Sets of two legs and four

While Trout rules the Cohutta with her flash and call

Two hopeful strays negotiate their share

Glue-stuck against our wandering sides

Hooks sunk deep into our hearts

We cannot keep them

Cannot risk them following us home and killing chickens

Nothing left but to fake and feign

Fun over

Dogs betrayed and left

Stun-faced at the side of the road

Blink back the sting and look up instead

See the uninterrupted sky blue sky

See the day stretched out young and hopeful

See that we are more than marks on the map

More than currency of chic-shopped mountain towns

Watch the ebb and feel the flow

Locals and carpetbaggers

People shouting howdy neighbor

How everyone brightens to see Chickory

With her fast flash smile

Blue eyes matching the daytime sky

Hard earned honest history.

And then!

She allows you to drive the old Ford back home

Mythic hunk of American metal

Engine growl like a heartbeat steady as she goes
Hugs every twist and turn of road

As sunlight makes a Pollock painting of the afternoon

And sinners go down to the river to pray

We drink and wonder at the how and why

The who did what to whom

The this that and the other thing
What bulwarks to erect against the encroaching darkness

The fall of spirit the death of independence

Until even the revolution must break for dinner

Comfort found in orange cabin glow

Flash of glass

Sheen of metal

The waft of something good to eat

As with all things made, given, and received

In the search for fellowship in a shut-tight world

We travel in order to make of the unfamiliar

Another place that feels like home.