Flamboyant

Brilliant Royal Poinciana (Flamboyant)

Picture sour cream and onion dip, but instead of dipping with potato chips, imagine chicken cutlets flattened and broiled to the consistency and shape of crispy thick homestyle chips. Snack food served up as the main course. To aid with this delicious deception the thoroughly hammered chicken is covered with panko, but not just any old panko, but a spicy barbecue variety. Anne found this recipe from the New York Times, printed it and then handed it off to me. It really was quite easy to fix and made for a new and unusual dish and let’s face it, my cooking repertoire could use some shaking up from time-to-time.

Our marching campaign has continued unabated, walking daily to get us some exercise and also to get us out of the house, at least for a little while. This being the short weekend, more people are also out and about. Making social distancing more of a challenge than on those long weekend days. Not to worry though, we just switch sides of the street or if both sides are already taken, we then walk down the middle of the road. Add to this almost drunken wobble is our search for shade. June is warm enough that crossing the street for better shade is a thing to do. In the end, we ping-pong back and forth adding dozens of extra steps to what would have been the straight and narrow.

We watched the new murder mystery Knives Out. This somewhat tongue-in-cheek whodunit sports an all star cast, all wrapped up in a Victorian mansion. It features Daniel Craig as detective Benoit Blanc, with his atrocious attempt at a southern accent that makes him come across more like an Inspector Clouseau rather than a Hercule Poirot. In the end the movie is less an exercise in guessing who the guilty party is, not the least because during its theatrical release earlier this year its director Rian Johnson let loose with a major spoiler or two. Not only did he let loose with a clue on his own movie, but he also outed what had been an unofficial trade secret of the film industry. It turns out that Apple has no problem with movies using their products as props, so long as the characters who are using them are good people. Apple doesn’t want baddies being seen with their iPhones. To this end, I kept scanning the movie, looking for anytime a cell phone was used. As it turned out that wasn’t really necessary at all.

Now Playing

AMC Esquire 7 – Main Theater

Video killed the radio star and Netflix killed the movie theater. America’s largest movie theater chain AMC announced this week that there is a strong possibility that it would not survive this pandemic. Our local AMC is now an octogenarian and as such, would seem ripe to succumb to COVID-19. Over the years, it has striven to remain au currant. Originally it was only a one screen show, by the time that we moved to Saint Louis, it had broaden its venue to two. Later it made that seven. Most recently, it has redecorated itself as your living room, now with wall-to-wall lay-z-boy seating. It even added a bar and in-seat wait service. We are riding out our quarantine, while sampling multiple streaming services. I can’t remember when was the last time that I went to the Esquire. It has been more than a year. Meanwhile, in that same timeframe, I have attended dozens of live performances, many of them at the Fabulous Fox Theater, which started its life as a movie theater. Video killed the radio star and Netflix killed the Esquire.

Lions, no Tigers & my Pooh bear, Oh My!

Anne at Stony Man Overlook

We walked Forest Park again. For a change, we “visited” the zoo. Read peering through its many locked gates. While dodging passing joggers, we did manage to see a giraffe, zebras and even a lioness, plus many other animals, like antelope and birds. God help us when they reopen the golf course, because then will go the wide-open spaces where the antelope and the old people like to roam. We got our steps in though. Now me and my cutie patootie have embarked upon an Abba marathon, read the musical Momma Mia! It wouldn’t be a true marathon if we didn’t also watch the sequel too, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Both movies are set to music and both are set on a beautiful Greek island, but you’ve gotta love the sets sung by the movie’s Greek chorus. It is Meryl Streep that leads and steals the show and eventually the wedding too, at least in the original movie. She only has an uncredited cameo in the sequel, but is heavy featured in the trailer. 

When you put a woman up on a pedestal, you often only end up letting her down. I hope that I don’t do that here. We’re COVID co-partners, hunkering down in our shared quarantine. Come another couple of months we will (hopefully) celebrate our fortieth wedding anniversary together. That would be so grand! It looks like that we will end up celebrating our wedding celebration as we did our wedding night, all on our own though. Until then, we go day-by-day. Which day is it anyway? Forty years! That’s a long time. Hopefully, at least half a lifetime or two. There is that all until death do us part of our love contract, but that is too heavy for this live-in the moment post. Think life! Think hope!

Luce Center Visible-Storage

Silver Aisle in the Met’s Luce Center Visible Storage Gallery

In New York’s huge Metropolitan Museum of Art or simply the Met, tucked away in one of its hidden corners, is the Luce Center, a visible-storage facility that displays more than 10,000 works of American fine and decorative art. Walking its aisles is like walking through a fine department store. In it, objects are arranged by material (paintings, sculpture, furniture and woodwork, glass, ceramics and silver), and within these categories they are further arranged by chronology and form.

Think of the Luce Center as the chorus line of the Met’s artworks, on stage, but not yet in the spotlight. Someday, one or two or even a few of these pieces will leave their glass case and be featured in some art show, say a retrospective of colonial era silver-smithing, but for most items this is their lot in life. A work of art, but not a great work of art. The corridor lights are motion activated, where illumination signals the arrival of the next occasional visitor. The lights shine for only a brief while, as someone marches down the aisle reviewing, but not really seeing. There are too many to see or to savor. Still, it beats being locked away in a box. You are after all on display, in showbiz sort of speak, if only in the chorus line, but maybe, just maybe, someday a star.

The Met’s collection is all online. That includes all of the objects in the Luce Center. Objects can be searched for. Online though, each object is catalogued and displayed individually. There is no sense of their collective presence. No chorus line to review. Every one of these objects is just a singular sensation.

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Even though yesterday was V-E Day, we took a break from our relentless pursuit of World War II era justice, in the series Foyle’s War. We had already screened pass the V-E Day episode and have entered the post-war era. For a break, we watched the 2010 Rom-Com Valentine’s Day. It is a star-studded affair. Virtually a who’s-who of that year’s silver screen luminaries. It was an enjoyable piece of fluff that indulged is some serious tinsel town navel gazing. Set entirely on its namesake’s day, we follow this truly large ensemble cast’s trials and tribulations, all in the name of love. The part that I liked the most actually occurred at the end of the movie, while the credits were rolling.

If featured Julia Roberts, who plays a returning servicewoman, on only a very brief leave. Most of the movie she has been seated next to Bradley Cooper on a plane. He is playing a high flying businessman, sort-of-speak. Throughout the movie is teased their A-list hookup, but this is not to be. Instead, Cooper lends her his limo, so that she can have a few more minutes, out of her all too brief leave, with her significant other. In the credits, she is headed back to the airport and while passing Rodeo Drive, the limo driver asks her, if she has ever shopped there. Her big meta moment comes with the answer, “Big mistake. Big. Huge.” An allusion to her Pretty Woman role. I warned you about the naval gazing.

The Half Of It

Density Hourglasses

“Gravity is matter’s response to loneliness.”

The Half Of It, new on Netflix, is a delightful Rom-Com with a twist. Written and directed by Alice Wu, it stars Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) as a shy and lonely, straight-A high school senior, who is isolated in backwater Squahamish, WA. Living down by the railroad tracks, with her widowed signalman father, has earned her the derisive nickname Ellie Choo-Choo. Treated as a foreigner in the only place she has even known leads to her mercenary practice of penning their essays for cash, “Ten dollars for three pages.” “If you don’t get an A, then you don’t pay.” 

She is only a minor character, Ellie’s English teacher Mrs. Geselschap (Becky Ann Baker), but she steals every scene that she is in, as in this bit of dialogue, where she discloses to Ellie that she knows all about her paper writing business.

Mrs. Geselschap: Six different takes on Plato. Impressive.
Ellie Chu: Just the one.
Mrs. Geselschap: That’s what I tell the bartender.
Ellie Chu: How come you never turn me in?
Mrs. Geselschap: And have to read the actual essays they’d write?

She sees a spark in Ellie and tries to convince her to attend Grinnell College in the fall, where she too had graduated. Ellie will have none of it, explaining her intentions to remain in Squahamish, attend a local second rate institution and care for her father. This leads to an exchange between the two about the merits of Grinnell, Hell-quahamish and what constitues success in life that cuminates with Geselschap telling Ellie, “Everyone fears God in this town. But do you know who God fears? The Teachers’ Union.”

Enter Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer), a school jock who asks for Ellie’s help in writing a love letter to fellow classmate Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire). What evolves is a real Cyrano de Bergerac love triangle. Initially, she rejects his request, “Get a thesaurus. Use spell-check. Good luck, Romeo.” Eventually though they team up to win Aster’s heart. What begins with written letters, soon moves on to texting, allowing Ellie to in real time save Paul and Aster’s first and very nearly last date, “In love, one always starts by deceiving oneself, it ends by deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.”

No love triangle can remain stable for long and this one eventually has its Jerry Springer moment that lays a hilarious Easter egg of sorts, but not before its two initial bonds are joined by others. Aster and Ellie share a conversation and a jump cut sequence where they collaborate on a graffiti wall mural. Aster tells Ellie that, “The difference between a good painting and a great painting is typically five strokes. And those strokes are usually the boldest strokes in the painting.” To which Ellie eventually responds with, “Love is being willing to ruin your good painting for the chance at a great one.” High school is a time in life that is full of great opportunity and to paraphrase Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks, great opportunity gives birth to great moments. This film is full of great moments and I hope you soon have the opportunity to enjoy it too. 

Blow the Man Down

Fisherman’s Wharf

The reviews are in and they look pretty good. Critics have described the movie as ‘darkly funny’, ‘Maine by way of Fargo‘, comparing it favorably to the Coen Brother’s classic and as a ‘splendid Downeast noir’ At ninety minutes, this low-budget independent film enjoys the benefit of little competition on its opening weekend. Anne and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the film and not simply because of our familial connection with the project. Our son Dan is the credited set dresser for the film. One of his most notable contributions was the design and construction of a plywood sign of a lobsterman dubbed Captain Dick. In the opening fifteen minutes it is destroyed in a car crash, but by Dan’s telling that scene was filmed near the end of filming. Anyway, we found this short little movie to be quite captivating and it certainly took our minds off of things.

Man Down is a murder mystery set in the fictional Maine fishing village of Easter Cove. As a mystery, it is not as much about who-done-it, but rather, do they get away with it. Except for a Greek chorus of rubber clad fisherman and a few other two-dimensional male characters, most of the cast is female. The two Connolly sisters are the leads. We first meet them as they host their mother’s funeral, but a quartet of AARP eligible women do much of the show’s heavy lifting and give the show much of its gravitas. Try it, you’ll like it.