Friday, May 30, 2008

Hitchens makes an excellent point here. It also always strikes me that I'm perfectly capable of pouring my own wine. It's a little like when those guys pull out your chair for you. Thanks to Malcolm Jolley for pointing me to the link.
I couldn't agree more with this column. All the proposals to encourage more interesting food have been bizarre and deluded. Just open it up already.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

AHG 20 – Where Al gets real political

So, right after we got back from Orlando, Al started to seem real sombre-like and, other than Gordon Ramsay shows, turned his attention entirely to really serious, apocalyptic and political-ish type movies.

I'm not saying this is a hundred per cent for sure related to having spent time in the land of Mouse, it's just that I wonder a little about the timing.

We kicked off the month with I Am Legend, which was kinda watchable. Maybe I had more tolerance for it than I should have, since I like zombie movies and the whole "last man" trope in science fiction and wanted to see how it played out. Not nearly as bad as we expected.

Plus, I was also prejudiced in its favour because I like watching movies with New York in the background. This is probably how I managed to make it to the end of Cloverfield. Al seemed to be really enjoying it, despite the fact that the acting and character development was way beyond bad. Not only that, 'cause of the shaky hand-held camera gimmick, I couldn't even be entertained with good monster shots. And, when the statue of Liberty's head landed in the middle of Soho, my disbelief was already headed for trouble. Are we meant to think the monster carried it from Liberty Island?

Then, Al disobeyed me and rented Michael Clayton. With total disregard for the Clooney edict, he made me watch this thinly disguised Monsanto bash-fest. I guess the thing is, I sorta think Monsanto bash-fests are well deserved and, to tell the truth, I didn't even think Clooney was so awful in it - this once.

Next was Lions for Lambs. It had its good points and its bad ones. For example, I couldn't take the Streep character at all. And Robert Redford played a prof who was spending a full hour with an undergrad student. Please. Do five minutes of research. Ask any prof the last time he spent an hour with an undergrad. Fully clothed, that is.

But, holy crap, was Tom Cruise ever amazing. Now, I don't like Cruise when he's acting, but this time he was playing a misguided megalomaniac and was just swell. It was just like watching those Scientology videos (you know the ones) where he laughs insanely to himself about absolutely nothing and gestures a lot. It got me thinking: I wonder when Cruise will take a run for senate for real? That's something to look forward to.

Although, to tell the truth, it couldn't be much more entertaining than the recent antics. I mean, I got kind of excited about Obama about a year or so ago and slowly started not rooting for Ms. Clinton. I felt vindicated as she got campier and campier and her husband got ruddier and ruddier and those folks didn't seem to take the hint that maybe they'd already, ahem, lost.

Of course, like many, I'm sure, I started to think back to Primary Colors and wondered if perhaps the Clintons had some evidence that their opponent had dabbled in cocaine with young men or something and were carrying the pictures around and waiting to drop it on him – just like that monster did with the statue's head. But they would've dropped it by now, so I suppose they're waiting for him to make a big gaffe all on his own.

And then, sure enough, Ms. Clinton was on the TV set just the other day, pointing out that in that Primary Colors movie, John Travolta (another scientologist who should take a shot at running for office – perhaps on an environmental platform) only won in June. And, what's more, she reminded us that RFK was shot in June, too.

So, there's hope for her campaign after all.

I wonder now, though, whether I even like Obama as much as I used to. My friend Chandra says she thinks he's got a bit of a smug frat boy sneer on his face these days – like he's had it all a bit too easy. The thing that got me was when he was saying how we weren't all going to be able to heat our houses to 72 degrees anymore. Next, he'll be telling us to put on a sweater. Personally, I don't think any platform that sounds like your mother is the sort of thing that gets you elected.

Besides, I sort of don't mind the idea of McCain these days. I've always enjoyed him on Jon Stewart and, I have a feeling that he might keep going on the show, if elected. And, if not, his disappointment might be kinda severe and frankly, that might not be so great for his health. Not to mention he might blow a gasket.

Next, we watched Charlie Wilson's War, a movie about a guy who kept getting elected despite his cocaine use and hanging out with strippers. Makes you kind of nostalgic, eh? I mean, for a time when politicians could openly use drugs and operations in Afghanistan and surrounding areas were still covert.

Finally, last night, we watched Evan Almighty. I'm not even gonna pretend to dignify this movie with any faint praise. It was awful. If I do say so myself, the funniest moment in the movie was during the credits when I pointed out that the message seemed to be that if a wealthy neighbourhood is flooded thanks to faulty engineering, political action to correct the situation and punish the culprits is swift and decisive.


Q: There was no hidden gem this month. What am I supposed to watch?

A: Sorry. You should watch Manda Bala, a doc about frog farming in Brazil. Sort of. It's also about kidnapping squads in Sao Paolo. It was amazing. Go get it.

Q: It might have been the cigarette I had but I could not understand No Country for Old Men. I completely missed what happened to the guy who took the money. Did he get killed in the hotel where the woman beside the pool wanted to have a beer with him? If so, who killed him? Why was some big corporation involved in the sale that kicked things off? Isn't that a bit bogus?

Seriously - all I saw a movie about a guy who killed people. For that it got raves? What did I miss? And when I asked some people about the ending, a bartender responded "You mean when he stabs the priest and sez 'I'm so tired'?" Then someone said "no that was TWBB" and then someone else "Oh now you spoiled it for me." And I'm like- you know - wha'?

A: Thank you for pointing this out. I was way too easy on No Country for Old Men last month. I thought there was an interesting intensity in a few spots. Basically, I thought it was a standard Coen Brothers overly-stylized, content-free "thriller." I don't know why they try to do anything other than movies like Raising Arizona.

I'm pretty sure that the fact that you were high as a kite had nothing to do with the fact that you were underwhelmed by No Country for Old Men. I thought it was over-rated myself.

Although you do gotta like that guy's hair.

Al's Corner
Well, in Cloverfield, not actually getting a clear view of the critter was perfectly okay. It’s sort of like our cat – the invisible one. I mean, you can sense he’s right in the middle of the table, stealthily hooking a pork chop off your plate but, like, you just can’t see him. Very scary.

And, while I’m up, I thought Christine did a bang-up job this month and told her so. Thing is, she tells me this bit might pretty much have run its course. This shouldn’t happen. You should tell her. I’d have to go back to watching CNN.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Rod Weatherbie of Taste TO wrote a piece about In Our Cups on Friday, which I thought I'd draw your attention to. Thanks Rod!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A couple of food sculpture slide shows have made me desperately want to hone my carving skills: first, this; then this. The first set is especially great.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I was out with friends last night who mentioned that, if they move, it will be to a place where Happy Hour is a cherished institution. Or, at least legal. Well, they might have to rule out France. Too bad. You hate to see anti-prohibitionist forces take up over there. Last time it led to the ban on absinthe.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

And here, a review of some good and some not-so-good food memoirs. Mouth Wide Open was my favourite, obviously.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Our recycling bin just arrived - what a fucking monstrosity. Fortunately, we're getting a new porch this year and can redesign it around the recycling bin. 'Cause dragging it up and down the steps when it's full is going to be a real big drag.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The bad news is that I think we must give up our tuna sashimi. The good news is that oysters are probably okay! Johnny Flynn, here I come. More on the topic here.