Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Oakland for my Valentine

 I got a cute AirBnB in Temescal for 3 nights and smiller joined me Friday.

Started out Thursday by breaking the bank at Snail Bar, both on fancy snacks and then I took 2 bottles of wine home too. So worth it though and I don't do much at home in Sac. Snail Bar is super popular but I knew as a solo at 5 on a Thursday I'd be fine to get a spot

Started with oysters, the wine is the Mosse chenin blanc. I bought a bottle to take home and also bought a bottle of their grolleau 

As I sat I listened to what seemed like a first date where a guy told his whole life story. Quote, "having sex at burning man is actually very hard, because everyone is gross"

Then I got the snails, cuz it's snail bar and ya hafta. They were buttery of course and chewy, the best touch was the slice of lemon zest. I loved these snacks but def one of these two dishes messed my stomach up for days. I tried to blame Burgers N' Brew, where my boss dragged me for work, but since I got an Impossible Burger there, I'd say the oysters are the most likely. Are you interested in my intestines??

 
I schlepped from Snail Bar to Redfield cider bar on College with two bottles of wine  in my giant tote. I had a glass of Dupont cider at Redfield, and then headed to Ramen Bar. OMG their ramen is so good. This is the smoked duck and it's so smoky and maybe the best part are on the left there the slices of sunchoke. Unexpected and fucking great!!!
In the morning, since I had Friday off I knew that was my chance to try Boichik bagels with likely a minimal line. I was right. Biochik was interesting. Very firm, very glossy. I was slightly put off by the fact they recommend you order untoasted (uh, no) and I can't say it toasted up well when I got some for the second day. Also, they push whipped cream cheese on you (uh no yet again). I liked Boichik, maybe not a love affair.

Sunday I went to Beauty's Bagel, which I know is now Wise Sons. I figured since it's not cool anymore it probably wouldn't be that busy and I was right. I got the sesame to go and they are still good, not detectably different from when it was Beauty's. Perhaps they kept their recipe.

On Friday we had a res at Belotti on College. Still mostly outdoor dining so that jankness of the sidewalk and lighting of the streetlight was not the most romantic. They don't have any type of patio. It was so dark that an elderly guy tripped over the heat lamp and the table of youngs next to us turned on their cell phone flashlight and just set it face up on their table to be able to see their food.

Nevertheless, the pasta was super good. Polenta stuffed tortelli with a thyme and rabbit sauce!!

I wish I would have taken more pictures! We had a lot of fun around Lake Merritt, including at the bonsai garden area.  I am out of practice taking pics cuz of not having much to take pictures of usually.

Really good beers dranken: a dank West coast IPA at Temescal (dank beers and I are having a moment), not great brews at Wondrous Brewing company in Emeryville including a pilsner that somewhat offended me, De Garde Midi Brais at Redfield (tasted like the poor man's Cantillon Saint-Gilloise)

Oh yeah, and ate at Tacos Oscar, I got the fried egg taco that is an oily mess in the best way, dripping with salsa macha, and the chicken with guajillo. I can't wait until Tacos Oscar opens their side area back up, but I am glad they have seating in the front now. Last time I ate there I crouched on a curb.


Monday, January 31, 2022

Should I change blog title to heckamovies?

 I watched Bergman Island. I wanted to see the internet's boyfriend this Scandinavian guy who is a working doctor and also in this move and Worst Person in the World (which is supposed to come to Tower but I'm not holding my breath). He is indeed handsome. Bergman Island reminds me of a movie I love, directed by Joanna Hogg, called Archipelago, which is about privileged people vacationing in an island-type setting but still not being that happy and riding bikes around. But Bergman Island throws in lots of Bergman discourse and a movie-within-a-movie (with some sexy sexy scenes with the Dr.) and has some fuzzy ideas about art and marriage. I enjoyed it, it could have been a bit shorter (as most movies could!). I really want to visit the Bergman Island, except it's overtouristed by Bergman nerds so probably a nearby Swedish Island would be better.

I was reading about it after I watched it, and it turns out that Greta Gerwig was cast in the wife role, but dropped out, and instead it was Vicky Krieps (so memorable from Phantom Thread). I think this movie would have been terrible with Gerwig in it. I like her a lot but she doesn't exactly disappear into a role. Then I was reading what she is up to and she is writing and directing the Barbie movie with Margot Robbie and Gosling as Barbie and Ken. This sounds like a terrible idea.

I also watched A Hero, directed by Asghar Farhadi, who directed A Separation, which I've never seen but I know a lot of people like. A Hero is grueling to watch, it has shades of Bicycle Thief (I think, but I haven't seen it in 20 years so I could be wrong about that). It factors in social media in a deft way that will age well since no specific platform is mentioned. The star Amir Jadidi is so good, he does amazing things with a melting smile and duplicitous eyes. It's interesting to see home and business scenes in contemporary Iran.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Glengarry Glen Ross and a bad back

I threw out my back. I know, "fascinating" you think, "tell me more". I think it is funny that I did whatever I did (sprain? strain?) when I was bending over to wipe my drool up off the floor of the UC Davis gym because I was filling a tube for my COVID spit test. I've gotten like 80 tests and I've never drooled. I must have been really hydrated!

Anyway, I almost audibly heard a "sproing" in god knows what muscle, above my butt and pretty quickly it became painful and scary to sit down or stand up. Walking was fine but changing positions was hard. I went to see Parallel Mothers at the Tower after work and the getting in and out of the car sitch was tough.

I liked Parallel Mothers, I don't think I love any Almodovar movie. I just do not vibe or relate. My fave was probably that recent one with Banderas subbing in as elderly Almodovar (with back troubles!)

I had to call in sick to work the next day. Luckily, I had a million muscle relaxers from old injuries because docs give those things out like candy. After the one day I could work but not much else. It's been 8 days and I am really hoping I can go for a short run tomorrow.

I still managed to go see The Lilies play at the Starlet room (is that what it's called?) and that was fun despite being masked. It is easy for me to resist drinking when there aren't good options.

Me and Smiller watched Glengarry Glen Ross last night because he had never seen it. I think it holds up! I still love it. It came out in 92 and I'm pretty sure I saw it in the theater. It hits different after you've worked in the office. The Ed Harris character reminded me of a guy on my team who never stops complaining! It's like dude there's the door you are free to go. Even though women's stories interest me more these days I can still appreciate this movie and revel in the masculinity, swim in the testosterone, luxuriate in the hairy posturing.

The topic of GGR came up because I watched House of Games the other night. So good! I love Mantegna, and I can never not picture him as the Simpsons character he voices (also love him in Criminal Minds!) I didn't know that Lindsay Crouse is Zosia Mamet's mom, I thought it was second actress wife. No shade on short hair at all but I think that is one of the least flattering cuts of all time. It is flowbee material. I love her all beige outfits however. I have a goal to do more monochrome dressing, but I don't know how to get the tights shades matched (also I barely go anywhere so not much opportunity to work on outfits or show them off)

Thursday, January 06, 2022

 Glad I can at least crack myself up with the banner photo. Every time!

How to stay sane in the current times??? Reading (Eve Babitz, Hilton Als, Gary Shteyngart currently on rotation with New Yorker of course). No Didion read or planned to read, and I'll leave it at that....

Cooking: Japanese beef curry. All ingredients from Oto's, which was bangin' around New Year's. I used the curry roux blocks rather than making my own from S&P curry powder. Those are the traditional pickles to serve with (fukujinzuke), which of course Oto's had. I've had curry at restaurants but don't recall having the pickles before. Served with a 12 degrees from Urb, so good! A surprise to me is that most curry recipes have a grated apple in there, but it lent a really good sweetness to it. I want to make it again with chicken katsu.

I also nixtamalized and ground the last of my corn I bought from LA boutique corn vendor Masienda in early pandemic. It was a relief to finally use it all because I won't be grinding my own corn anymore until I find a better corn grinder than the La Victoria hand crank one. It just doesn't yield pliable tortillas. But I have masa flour from Bob's Red Mill and a blue corn flour from Masienda right now so I'm good. I also made handmade flour tortillas the other day. Those are easy and really good. I made the mole amarillo from the recipe from La Guelagetza but now I'm realizing that their recipe is maybe weird (it is certainly hard to follow!), nevertheless it was quite good. Hard to argue with fresh ground spices (like oregano, allspice, cumin) and dried guajilllo chiles as a base for anything. Did not snap a pic of my handmade tostadas with mole amarillo as the roughly ground corn made them kind of  ugly.

This was the best sweet thing I ate. The last couple of years Smiller's mom has been gifting me a panettone for Christmas and I've been making French toast out of it. It's insane

Monday, January 03, 2022

Final PTA post Do I Like Licorice Pizza with spoiler for the ending

M.R. had warned me that LP didn't have much of a plot: "it's a vibe" in his words, so I was prepared. Let me start with the fact that the ticket at Tower was 17 BUCKS!! Is that because it's 70 mm? Also, no previews, so we missed the first five minutes. Is there an awesome credits/title sequence? IDK.

Once I accepted that I had missed the beginning of a movie which has only happened to me once in years and then only because I had the start time wrong, I settled in for the Haim-ish ride. Get it? Haimish? (that's a Yiddish joke). I greatly enjoyed it, although it really felt like a cross between a Wes Anderson and PTA film at times, what with the precocious kids and on-screen theatricals. 

The only truly bad is the really stupid Japanese accent parts, which were very jarring and also had a dumb "payoff" punchline. PTA has said that his Japanese step-mother-in-law has had the experience of people speaking English to her in a "Japanese" accent, and well, maybe? I'm not sure I buy that but that part still should have been cut. I'm sure some far better scenes were left on the cutting room floor. In it's WTF-ness it did authentically feel like a scene from a 70s or 80s film but so what not worth it.

Alana Haim is as dynamic as everyone says and there are so many just beautifully shot scenes. Most of the cameos are really good (Sean Penn and the casting agent come to mind, could have done without the B. Cooper) and again, their randomness lends itself to the 70s shaggy filmmaking vibe. It's sweet and funny. The 10 year age gap does not bother me as it's not realistic that they would be together, so I choose to disregard any conclusion from the ending that they are going to be and think that the kiss was a fluke. 

The music was mostly apt for the scenes. Bonus for making me be like "this is a great Doors song" and props for Smiller for instantly naming it as Peace Frog. Also love to hear Barabajabal in any context. Or to have an excuse to say it, or to get it caught in my head.

I fully applaud PTA making it so that he could hang out and pay tribute to where he grew up/lives and to cast friends. I saw the budget was a surprising 40 mill (I don't really follow the movie biz so maybe that is not surprising?) and as of a couple days ago it had made 6 mill despite really wide release so I think it's not going to be considered a hit.

In conclusion, for my college application essay: I do very much like Paul Thomas Anderson.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Death by GPS

 Tahoe is all snowed in and a bunch of freeways are closed. I've been on twitter a lot because it's that dead week at work between Christmas and New Year's and I usually choose not to take vacation. I remember in the early days of Heckasac Smiller would despair because there was no one online and he was the only one working. At my prior job my boss would give me the time off and not make me use vacation, that was pretty cool!

Back to my point about Twitter, I am seeing a lot of snarky traffic posts about trying to drive in the snow, including like from the CHP. It's a bit jarring to see the jokey tone from CalTrans and cops, but I guess it's a Twitter thing. One person tweeted about how Google Maps was showing people alternative routes that would cause them to get stuck in the snow.

This got me thinking about a time many years ago (how many? no idea - ten? more? aha, I checked my email and it was 2009, so 12 it figures I would guess ten because of how the pandemic made the last two years simultaneously long and also meaningless) when GPS almost got me and my friend JM killed.

We were heading to a ghost town in Nevada, no, not the one I've been to a few times that many people go to, but some other one. I have never been to this day so I can't tell you what it was called. We must have been using some first gen GPS I'm guessing, like a Tom Tom. My mom still uses my old Tom Tom when she's in the states, although since that's been two years as well I'm wondering if it will work if she can ever come visit again. She was supposed to visit in about 3 weeks but ya know, Omicron.

We set off, probably without maps and followed the GPS. After hours we ended up on dirt roads, and finally gave up when it was sending us dirt roads that were too narrow to turn around, with big deep ruts on both sides. They were obviously not for cars, maybe for ATVs or I don't know, 1800s cattle drives? I remember at one point getting out of the car to direct her and because I was getting to scared to be in the car which I though might fall off the road (I am notorious for being like a rat fleeing a sinking ship, I will abandon you and get myself to safety)

I don't know how long this went on (sorry, my memory is too bad for my stories to be great) and then we drove back into some town and asked them. Maybe it was the town museum. We told them the name of the ghost town (I swear it maybe had the word green in the name) and I think they gave us another pointer, but we either tried it and it looked sketch or we just were too tired to try.

At this point we decided to give up and drive home, our friends were in a ghost town and everyone had flip phones so there was no way they would get reception. I remembered the Four Eyes were playing in Nevada City, which was on our way home. I think it was at the Mineshaft. I think smiller was there? My friend JM was beat but he dropped me off so as a bonus to my 12 hour day stressed in the car I got to see my friends/great band.

addendum: I blogged about this in May 2009, made an obscure joke about deciding not to camp (not sure why I didn't say we got lost) and the show was actually in Placerville! And there are also pics from Biz's graduation https://heckasac.blogspot.com/2009/05/friday-cruise.html

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Do I like Phantom Thread

 I forever associate this movie with going to see it at DoCo with Scott and arriving to the window to discover I had dropped my wallet in Coin Op. That's the one and only time I've ever been (or will probably ever be) in Coin Op, and we were there for a complicated reason that had to do with thinking Katy Perry was playing at Golden 1 that night and wanting to avoid the crush or something.

Anyway, we didn't go that night so had to go back and see it another time. I did not find the wallet and canceled everything (it only had a little cash in it) but then months later it was dropped through our mailslot with my cards, but cash gone. So I now have 2 valid driver's licenses, which could come in handy some day.

I liked it but I vaguely felt like Woodcock was problematic and a dick (natch, it's in the name). Rewatching last night, I had a strong and unexpected reaction: I could not stand his wife. Whether or not you like his dowdy-ass clothes, this man is an artist, and art is important. Yes, he just outfits rich woman, but his work is meaningful to them, and other women who can't afford the clothes and he is living a life of authentic art-making. Being a good romantic partner is not the end-all be-all of life. Not everyone has to be one. Sometimes people are more preoccupied with other things. Yes, that sucks if you date them, but if you are free to go you are able to walk out. 

It's different if someone is abusive, and for sure Woodcock is throwing up red flags all over the place at first, including wiping off her lipstick on their first date and negging her about her figure. He is a dick and a terrible partner, but they are just wrong for each other and she should go.

I understand that the gender dynamics are problematic because the trope of the great artiste is almost always male, but I also think it's fine for a women to exist with other priorities that don't make her a great romantic partner whether it's being an artist or a doctor or whatever. 

Like Woodcock, I enjoy a peaceful household and also treasure my quiet in the morning so I think I just took her toast scraping and spoon biting too hard lol. There is nothing wrong with wanting peace and harmony in your house, and maybe not being a boisterous party person, or even not being "fun". I don't necessarily identify with all of that (I'm "fun" at times, I hope, ok probably rarely), but there are other ways to be and seriousness and focus are important too.

There's so much that could be said about their relationship and his draw to Alma and his lack of self awareness about what he needs in a partner. Her age and origin is never discussed, but there is an over 25 year age gap between these two actors.  But I'll just wrap up with wow Daniel Day Lewis' embodiment of this character is insane. This person felt real to me in all his quirks and idiosyncracies. Sister Cyril, the old so-and-so was also great, and Alma too. If Oscars were a real measure of quality this should have taken them all around.

PTA's first movie set outside of America, I wonder what the Brit's take was on whether he got those details right. I think this and Boogie Nights are his masterpieces.