Wednesday, March 25, 2009

AHG 28 – The “Where Has Al Been?” Issue

It’s a good question. One which I’d really like an answer to myself.

In case you hadn’t heard, Al decided it was time to finally pack it in at the old plant. He was tired of the daily grind and his employers offered him a little bit of money to go away. You may have already heard this but newspapers aren’t doing so well these days and, therefore, he figured it was a good a time as any to get out.

And so, Al went to pick up the buyout money one day last November and that was it. I didn’t hear from him for months. Your guess as to where he went is as good as mine. Might have been to Florida to re-live his glory days. He might have finally decided it was time to take that Highway One motorcycle drive up the California coast. (The first time his motorcycle was stolen just one hour after he rentedit. I think he left the doors open, though.)

Or, he could have just been downstairs, sorting through that mountain of junk he’s accumulated over the years. Alls I know is that there’s no trace of the buyout package. The nest egg is either buried in the cold cellar or lost on Number 22 in a Vegas casino. In his pajamas.

Or, at least, in what he thinks passes for pajamas.

Oh well.

We’ll think of something smart to do to recover. Among our get rich painfully slowly schemes are opening a bar and publishing yet another book. Both are still in the early stages but, rest assured, you will all be receiving near-daily requests for help and/or patronage through this very medium. And, yes, it is too late to be taken off the list.

So that’s what’s been keeping us busy. With all that, though, we’ve still had time to watch way too many movies. Pretty well all of them bad.

I had high hopes for Synecdoche, since I’ve liked most of the projects Charlie Kaufman has been involved with. And, initially, it seemed like it was going to be great. For example, when a character considers a house that is actually already on fire and her real estate agent explains that it’s a motivated seller, I was pretty amused. That could stand in nicely for the whole rest of the movie.

But it kept going on and on and becoming more and more obfuscated and so we turned it off to catch the next episode of Project Runway Canada. I was hesitant but Al got me hooked on it – totally gripping TV. Tempting even to rent the American version for the upcoming slow summer doldrums of a TV season, although I think I would really miss Iman.

Al also rented Changeling, despite my emphatic non-verbal gestures every time he reached for it at the video store. Hats off to Al on this one, though. Clint delivers again. But I imagine most of you all know that, since it’s hardly a hidden gem.

I’m going to own up to this next one. I suggested we watch How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, since it was written by “professional annoying person,” Toby Young, whose work we had come to be acquainted with on Top Chef. This was a huge mistake. It doesn’t sound nearly as bad as it is.

Next was Noise, which Al managed to bring home on a day when it was playing on our fancy movie channels about an hour after he got in the door. It was truly awful. Meandering, smug and pointless. A shame, since I could really get behind a movement to ban car alarms and cell phones.

Bottle Shock was pretty good. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist wasokay. But none of these are hidden. Here’s the thing: not one hidden gem this time around.

So, instead, we’ve been watching United States of Tara and, if you haven’t been doing so, I’m going to recommend that you do, too. A while ago, I wrote that the formula for all these shows is to take the most bizarre “other” you can think of (mobster, meth-lab owner, weed dealer, polygamist) and turn them into a normal suburbanite with the same banal problems as the rest of us. Still, I didn’t see this one coming: Toni Collette’s character has MPD. It’s set in Overland Park, Kansas, which is a pretty wealthy heartland community on the border of the state with which everyone has lately wondered what’s the matter. In some ways, the show attempts to answer that.

So that’s it for now. I honestly can’t say when the next AHG will come. I think I need to be inspired by some decent movies and Al clearly is in a rut. All suggestions welcome.

Q: Is AHG back by “popular demand”?

A: Yes! At least if you count two people vaguely inquiring as popular

Al’s Corner

Well, I’ll tell ya.

Embarrassing, yes, but a good portion of my being missing in relative action seemed to be spent going back and forth across the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls. This all happened on one single early evening and, at least, several of the crossings were by accident.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

No, I mean literally. Stop me on the street and tell me. Otherwise, given that there’s limited space on word documents, the tale is simply too long and confusing to rehash here. Although, not nearly as confused as some of the border customs guys. Either side, too.

One guy, for instance, asked whose car was I driving. I told him it was a rental. Then he asked – no kidding – why I had rented a car when it was only a 90-minute drive from Toronto. I couldn’t begin to guess what kind of response he was looking for there, so I offered him some wine gums instead.

Then he said, “Outta da car!”

So that set me back a little bit and, eventually, a good part of that so-called “nest-egg” got eaten up. Like, it’s about a $4 toll. Per crossing!

Speaking of the Rainbow Bridge, though, me and her go way back. When I was about 17 or 18, pedestrian-ing across following several of my first-ever cocktails, I came this close to jumping off. That, too, would’ve been by accident. Feel free to stop me.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Haven't been here in a while - sorry. If you missed the Bloody Caesar story (40 this year!) you can probably find it in the archives of Gremolata. Also, todays news: Irish Whiskey.