Tag Archives: Kathryn Bigelow

Lame Adventure 40: The Syrup Locker

It is lunchtime and Ling and I are sitting at our desks eating.  My friend and colleague is having a salad while doing some work-related retouching in Photoshop.  I’m stuffing myself with one of my legendarily crummy sandwiches while inhaling The New York Times Magazine online, a story written by Jon Mooallem published March 29,  2010 about if animals can be gay.  Appropriately, it is titled Can Animals Be Gay? Elsbeth enters our office and stands between our two desks.

Elsbeth:  Ling, can you make a sign asking customers to not touch the syrup locker?  They should ask for assistance.

Ling:  The what?

Me:  Did you say, “The syrup locker,” Boss?

Elsbeth:  Yes.  The syrup locker.

Ling:  Huh?

Me (excited):  Is that our version of The Hurt Locker?  Are you going to get all Kathryn Bigelow, Elsbeth, lead us into historical greatness, be a warrior princess, set  a precedent?

Bigelow in action directing The Hurt Locker.

Elsbeth was not overly impressed with Bigelow’s award winning film.  She gives me a withering glance before returning her attention to Ling.

Elsbeth:  You know [thinking/emphasizing] the locker for the syrups.

Ling looks completely baffled.

Me:  Now that’s a Claritin clear way of putting it.

Elsbeth (relieved):  Good.

Elsbeth leaves and returns to her office.  Ling and I are staring at each other like two doofuses.

Me:  What the hell’s the syrup locker?

Ling:  I have no fuckin’ clue.  I have to see that movie.

Me:  I liked it.  It’s good.  Hey, I’ll Google syrup locker.

I Google syrup locker, but that draws a blank.  Googling each word individually draws what one would expect.

Syrup.

Locker.

Ling resumes eating her salad and doing her retouching.  I resume reading about two female birds nursing an egg together making scientists ponder if these creatures are indeed lesbian.  Reading this fascinating article is the most awake I’ve been all day.

Birds of a feather.

The next morning, Ling and I are sitting at our desks eating breakfast.  She, a bowl of oatmeal and I, a cup of flavor-reduced vitamin fortified wood chips in skim milk.  Ling’s phone rings.  The caller is Stan, Elsbeth’s husband, asking Ling to make a sign for the vintage ice cream syrup dispenser we have on display.  Ling hangs up the phone and pounds out the sign. We both know what that is, having played with it ourselves a few weeks earlier.  The syrups are all empty.  We know, we checked.

The Syrup Locker (with sign).

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Lame Adventure 17: Shiny Naked Gold Guys

The only major television event that regularly excites me is the Academy Awards.  This is a bit perverse since I am seldom excited by most mainstream movies and that is the predominant fare that rules this extended tribute the film industry pays itself annually.  Yet, I am what I am, a film-whore.  Although I’ve seen nine of the ten Best Picture nominees (only missed District 9), no commercial films released in 2009 blew me away including Avatar (but I will admit a soft spot for Up since it made me think of my widower father, plus I liked the chubby Asian Boy Scout and the dogs).  I am not such a snob that I failed to recognize this box office titan as highly entertaining and worthy of its nominations, but as the ending credits rolled, I wondered, “Huh, what will the kids look like?”  Since it sounds like James Cameron is going to create a sequel, I guess I’ll get to find out.  Woo hoo.

Every so often, a fluke that annoys the masses, but impresses me, does get award-winning recognition.  In recent years, friendo, it was No Country for Old Men.  Usually, I’m apoplectic about some poor choice, like Crash stealing Best Picture from the far more worthy Brokeback Mountain.  I can feel my blood pressure rise just typing that sentence. Even my father and boss were scratching their heads over that one.  Yet, if Avatar is the big winner on Sunday, I do not anticipate anyone needing to call 9-1-1 for an ambulance on my behalf.  Ideally, I would like to see Kathryn Bigelow win Best Director for The Hurt Locker.  She’s the first woman nominated for directing that deserves the victory since Lina Wertmuller for directing the Nazi concentration camp dramatic comedy, Seven Beauties, back in 1977.  Wertmuller lost to John G. Avildsen who directed that year’s (allow me to access my air sickness bag) crowd-pleaser, Rocky.  Should Bigelow lose as her predecessor did, I will think that she got robbed, but I will be able to function in-between screaming fits.

Bigelow with her Directors Guild award.

My first lame adventure that I can recall was film-related.  It occurred in my San Francisco-based tot-hood when my parents announced that they were taking me to see my first film, Best Picture winner, West Side Story.  I was no more than 4, maybe as young as 3.  It was one of the best days of my life (ever).  I also got my first pair of sneakers that afternoon.  They were PF Flyers and marketed as allowing the wearer to run faster, jump higher and a third thing, maybe kill yourself sooner.  My mother also allowed me to select the color I wanted.  I shrieked, “Red!” at the top of my lungs and almost deafened the salesman.  That evening, after seeing my first movie in my first pair of sneakers, I went out of my mind.  I HAD to move to New York.  I wanted to be a shark.  I wanted to be a jet.  I wanted to dance in the street.  I wanted a girl named Maria.  I had so much energy after seeing that film in my brand new sneakers, I did a somersault, and threw out my neck.  That instantly slowed me down.  During my recovery, my father offered me a compromise solution to appease my delirium.  He taught me how to snap my fingers, a safer alternative to channeling my non-existent inner Cirque du Soleil.

The film that started it all.

Now, that I am some years older, I am more tranquil when expressing my film-inspired enthusiasm.  Last October, I was eating a roast beef sandwich as I waited for Milton in the seating area outside Alice Tully Hall to attend a screening of Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon at the New York Film Festival.  Haneke walked right in front of me, and stopped to talk to a small cluster of people, clearly friends or family.  This thrilled me beyond belief and I could feel my heart race.  I may have even had a beef shred protruding from my mouth momentarily before quickly accessing my toad-skills to suck it in.  I considered taking a photograph of one of the most talented filmmakers currently working, but I decided to feign cool New Yorker-dom and remain in the closet about my consummate film nerdia.  I so wanted to pee myself.

Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall

When Milton joined me, oblivious to walking past Haneke, he said, “Hi.”  I pointed with my eyes and replied sotto voce, “Haneke.”  Milton turned, and looked nonchalantly in the direction of my visual cue.  He looked back at me nodding his head slightly and smiling wryly in approval, equally aware that we were in the aura of filmmaking genius.  After Haneke entered the building, I gushed my guts out to my friend about aching to take a photograph of this great cinema artist, possibly the most interesting filmmaker working today since Ingmar Bergman retired from directing.  <sigh>  Milton thought that ignoring my inner paparazzo was the preferred course.  I agreed and then pounded my head against the pavement in agony before following my companion into the theater.  When will I ever be this near cinema greatness again?

Michael Haneke, filmmaking jesus.

The White Ribbon is nominated for two Academy Awards, Best Achievement in Cinematography, and Best Foreign Language Film.  Avatar is also nominated for cinematography and I anticipate it could dominate, but The White Ribbon was spectacularly shot, so I was delighted when I heard that it received a deserved nomination in this category.  I have only seen two of the other Foreign Film nominees, Ajami from Israel and The Prophet from France.  The competition from those two is stiff, but if I were a voter, I’d stick with The White Ribbon.  I will be dismayed if it loses, but not so dismayed that I will end up on life support …  Famous last words.