Here’s to the Firsties

Didja ever really take a look at an avocado hanging off of a tree (or in a pile at the grocery), with that pebbly green skin, and ponder why that fruit looks exactly like it’s made outta frogs? Did you hold one in your hand and wonder who, exactly was the first person ever who took a look at that green pear-shaped fruit and said to themselves, “hey, that looks tasty!”

And what was that first experiment like? Did they bite into it like an apple, only to ptoo-ptoo out that ucky skin? “I rather dislike the outside, but the innards, oh sweet delicious surrender!”

What about the first person to sample a lemon? What musta been going through their minds? Hmm, looks pretty and yellow. Smells divine. Nibble, nibble, ZOWEEEEE! *ting at the back of the jaw*

And then, after that horrifying experience, what was the thought chain that led to, “you know…if I add some water and something sweet to that, it could be very refreshing!”

How about…Which of our early ancestors plucked the berries from a juniper bush, fermented them, distilled the whole mess and figured out how to make gin? I mean, who was the utter genius with that idea? Because I don’t look at random berries on bushes and think, “hmm, martini!”

And what about coconuts? I mean, that’s a two-step process to get one of them sumnabitches open. First someone has to shimmy up a palm tree, a rather uncomfortable proposition, I’d think, then hack down one of those bad boys. AND THEN the two-steps to first peel off the thick outer later and then knock that thing on a rock to get it open.

Who had that kind of patience?

I’m glad they did because oh how tasty is coconut?

What about aloe? Or cactus fruit? Artichokes? Or those god awful stinky yet tasty durian fruits you find in Malaysia?

Who are these people who gave them the first try?

And what about the downsides of being first? For example…

Who, exactly, was our test subject to sample a handful of those pretty red little holly berries? Hey, the birds eat them, must be good right? According to Wikipedia (so you know it must be true), it only takes about twenty berries to be fatal for an adult. Whooops.

Who went there so that we’d all know not to?

I’m pretty grateful to that person, and all the other firsties.

Thanks for wandering through my strange random thought for the day. It has a genesis in something I saw in a movie and was a long strange trip in my brain from there….

Anyhoo. Happy Friday!

The Awards they Coulda Given Out

So I actually watched the Oscars last night.

I never watch the Oscars. I almost never watch the Super Bowl, and I watched that this year too.

What’s going on with me?

Ah well, another blog post for another time.

I don’t usually watch the Oscars because I believe they represent an overblown, poorly scripted Hollywood wank fest.

And I wasn’t disappointed this year.

I only saw three of the ten movies that were nominated, that being “Up,” “Up in the Air” and then yesterday afternoon, The Good Man and I took in “Crazy Heart.”

Based on those three films, here are the awards I can hand out:

Best Use of Talking Dogs – Nod goes to “Up.” Squirrel!

Best Bay Area Reference – Fenton’s Creamery gets a place of honor in “Up” and I like it. An homage to a tasty place. Good eats deserve their own award!

Best Smuggy-Smug-Smugerson Face – Well the award seriously goes to George Clooney.

Best Really Incredibly Hot Chick Who Is Dancing Around the Age of 40 and Still Looks Amazing – Vera Farmiga. Hooooot in the movie “Up in the Air.” Massively HOOOOT in that red dress at the Oscars. And age appropriate for her leading man too, how ’bout them apples?

Best Pretty Young Girl Who is a Solid Talent – those crappy vampire movies notwithstanding, I think Anna Kendrick is pretty damn good. She stole the show from Clooney and made that movie worth watching, IMHO.

Best “Hey, I Can See Your Acting Skills Growing By Leaps and Bounds and I Like It” Performance – Maggie Gyllenhaal in Crazy Heart. I’ve always been a fan of hers and I think this movie shows a huge maturity in her talent. She’s amazing.

Best Realistic Repeated Barfing by an Old Guy On Film – gotta go to Jeff Bridges on that. Ew. And yet, so well done!

And the big award of the night. The one we’ve all been waiting for:

Best Use of Downtown Albuquerque as a fill in for Houston – and the award goes to….”Crazy Heart.”

I laughed pretty hard at the scene where Bad is extolling the virtues of Houston as very familiar downtown Albuquerque landmarks roll past the car windows. They didn’t even try to obfuscate the Rio Grande Credit Union sign in a key scene.

Folks, come on up and get your trophy!

Getting My Geek On

Earlier in the week, a local sports radio guy posed the question to his callers:

“Star Wars Character draft, who’s your no. 1?” (this from the @DamonBruce Twitter feed)

Well, I was so geeked out over the start of Spring Training, I thought he meant baseball players. Turns out he meant basketball.

No matter, I brought up the question to The Good Man over lunch, which led to a rousing conversation about our all-Star Wars character baseball team.

The Good Man and I parted ways on a lot of the position players, but that’s ok. Debate is the heart of baseball.

Herewith are my starting nine (you’ll note I’m sticking to Episode 4,5 and 6 characters. I’m old fashioned that way):

First Base (and batting switch): Luke Skywalker. They guy can do yoga and is bendy. I need a guy who can stretch it out to grab the ball. He can “use the force” to figure out when a ball is coming hot down the line. Gotta keep it from rattling around in that weird right field corner at AT&T Park.

Second Base: Boba Fett. Solid hands. Decent footwork. Backed up by Yoda at short. Yeah, I’m ok with this choice. (yes, I know Fett is a bad guy. Go with me on this.)

Short: Yoda. Who else do you know that could pick it from the shoelaces and do a 360 to first for a double play? Gotta be Yoda.

Third: Obi Wan. Solid hands but an old guy. Too much action at first, third is his spot. I need him to nail down the hot corner and keep runners from scoring. I think an Obi to Yoda to Luke double play combination is *hot*. Keeps runners off balance. Yeah.

Left Field: Lando Calrissian. Look, Billie Dee is the MAN. He’s gotta bat clean up, can take it over the wall and look good doing it. Yup.

Center: Wedge Antilles. The guy’s an ace pilot. He’s lean. He can run. He’s got a good eye. I’ll bet he knows how to take a good route to the ball and can dominate that deep outfield at AT&T Park.

Right Field: Han Solo. Ok, the guy’s kind of a bumbler. I want him where he can do the least damage. I’m betting he can bat ok (but probably slump-y like Aaron Rowand) and can probably handle right (except I worry about him at AT&T Park). He’ll sometimes take a crappy route to the ball and you’ll want to put your head through the television. But mostly solid. The Good Man has Han Solo in left on his lineup card. I may agree with him…don’t know.

Catcher: Chewbacca. Furry Man has got the plate *sealed off*. Plus I bet he’s got a cannon on him. I see NO ONE stealing second with Chewy behind the plate. The Good Man has Chewbacca at third, and there is a good case to be made for that. I’m sticking with catcher. He’s a little tall for the job, but I think his knees can take it.

Pitcher: Well Darth Vader of course. Look, who else do you know in the Galaxy that has the control to throw a nasty 68 mph sinker followed by a 98 mph right up broadway and keep the batters off balance? He’s as ugly as Eric Gagne and twice as mean. You need a pitcher who can play mind games with the batters and Darth is your guy.

Here’s the lineup card I’m exchanging at the plate:

CF Wedge Antilles. Leadin’ us off with speed on the base paths.
1B Luke Skywalker. The guy can get on base and load ’em up for the 3 and 4 hitters.
C Chewbacca takin’ it deep or at least moving the runners.
LF Lando Calrissian batting cleanup. Might switch with Chewy if he’s on a streak.
3B Obi Wan
2B Boba Fett
S Yoda. Not a power hitter but he gets on base.
RF Han Solo. Where he can do the least damage.
P Darth Vader

Because where I come from, the pitcher has to bat. No designated hitter in my galactic ballgame.

I invite your own thoughts on the lineup. I can be persuaded….

This old dog learned a new trick

At Christmas, my husband received a gift from his step-mom. He unwrapped it and exclaimed, “A Ray Harryhausen collection! Honey, look, we got a Ray Harryhausen collection! Wow, thank you!”

And I was like, “who?” My sweetest is an educated film guy, so I figured it was some obscure director of strange and dark independent films. So I said, “hey, great!” with a shrug.

Who knew I was TOTALLY missing out?

Well, in my ongoing film education (The Good Man is keeping a list. I’m working through it….) he popped “The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad” in the ol’ DVD player while I was eating lunch one weekend afternoon.

Yeah baby! I figured out just who Ray Harryhausen really is. A master of creating amazing creatures in stop motion animation.

The stumbling roaring Cyclops from the late 1950’s is every bit as creepy today. In fact, in a lot of ways, I actually like that better that today’s over CGI’d movies.

Wow, so ok, I was intrigued.

At the end of the “Seventh Voyage of Sinbad” DVD, there were some special features. One was a bit about when Harryhausen got an Oscar (presented by his best friend, Ray Bradbury. What a pair they must make!) and at the end of Harryhausen’s speech, Tom Hanks comes onto the stage to bring on the next award.

He makes the segue by saying, “I know for some people it is Gone with the Wind or Casablanca, but for me, it’s all about ‘Jason and the Argonauts‘”

I looked at The Good Man, “Well we have to watch that next, then.”

And so we did. We watched as Jason and his merry band of Argonauts fight a huge bronze statue of Talos come to life and, oh man this part was cool, a whole army of sword wielding skeletons! Skeletons! I *love* skeletons! They clacked and grimaced and fought. Aw damn, how very cool!

Then we watched “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad” and I remembered that I saw this movie, most likely on TV, with my big brother back in the day. I remembered the blue Shiva with swords in all the arms. (and let’s talk about the very naturally endowed Caroline Munro. Rowr! It’s so rare to see an un-surgically enhanced actress anymore.)

And finally, we had to get to the must see film because, well, it’s set in San Francisco. This is all part of my SF film education.

It Came from Beneath The Sea.” Yeah baby!

What the movie lacked in dialogue and story (and it lacked A LOT), it more than made up for in great animation.

Oh, that angry squid snapping the top off the Ferry Building and wrapping tentacles around the Golden Gate! Whoa! And that far-reaching tentacle slapping down Market Street, squishing unsuspecting citizens!

Good stuff!

So okay. I’m up to speed on Harryhausen. I watched the Dirty Harry movies. We did the Hitchcocks set in SF (hello Vertigo!).

I’m excited to see what’s next in my ongoing edjumacation!

Seductive Power of Film

Over the weekend, The Good Man and I caught a double feature of The Asphalt Jungle and Niagara, both from the early 1950’s.

This was part of the Noir City Film Festival in San Francisco.

I love old movies, so a double header of Marilyn Monroe at the old Castro Theater was my kind of Sunday afternoon.

Ooh, the danger, the intrigue, the double crosses and bad outcomes!

Yes!

But it was all the highball glasses of bourbon and endless chain-smoking on screen that left a lasting impression on me.

I mean, every character was lightin’ up for the course of both movies. And oh do they look like they are enjoying every single inhale.

And then they’d pour two fingers of whiskey and slug that back and the shoulders come down and a nice relaxed state falls into place. The booze and the smokes were like a separate character in the film!

Man. Did those actors make it look good.

No, I’m serious. Chalk it up to an addictive personality or someone who just enjoys really seductive things, but I’m not kidding. I wanted to leave the theater and go buy a pack of unfiltered Pall Malls so I could inhale and calm down and be as cool as a tall drink of water like Marilyn or Sterling Hayden.

And if I was gonna take a long drag off a cool smoke, well of course I’d need some single barrel whiskey in my hand to wash it all down while I plotted my revenge, or jewel heist, or how to off the bad guy.

Oh I’m so suggestible!

This must be why those advocacy groups get their chones in a bunch about all the smoking in films, huh?

Because everyone looks great in the films, and you don’t see the stained skin, the smokers hack or, eventually, the oxygen assisted breathing.

I mean, for a girl who lost many a family member to the perils of smoking, you’d think I’d be turned off by all of that.

But I wasn’t. I craved. I’m not even a former smoker, but oh, how I craved to leave a ruby red lipstick stain on a cigarette butt while some charming man lit a new one for me. All while I swayed across the screen with trouble on my mind.

Ah well, never fear, I didn’t engage in the smokes.

However, they were pouring small slugs of decent bourbon in the lobby between shows.

Sunday afternoon I had popcorn, Junior Mints, Red Vines and bourbon.

Whatta great day!!