Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/29/14: Learning More About D.C., No Shopping Dinner, Branagh and Bergman

1.  I decided not to go into Washington, D. C. today and, instead, did more reading about D.C. breweries and taplists to better prepare for future visits.

2.  The Deke, in a sense, started work today.  She attended the first of a three day workshop on immersion instruction.  I wanted to have dinner ready for her when she arrived home and decided I would make due with whatever was available here at home:  ground beef, onions, potatoes, bacon, all fried, topped with slices of tomato and grated cheese.  It worked.

3.  We watched another Wallander episode and it moved even more deeply into detective Kurt Wallander's existential struggles.  In fact, there were moments when I thought I was watching an Igmar Bergman movie, not a television detective series, as the weight of fatigue and the pain of  existing burden Kurt Wallander and move him to ponder the absurdity of his life and work and question the meaning of his existence.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/28/14: Bread and Water, Scrips Transferred, Intro to "Wallander"

1.  The Deke and I took a short drive to Belle View Blvd. and had a tasty pastry and cup of coffee at a bakery called Bread & Water.  I don't remember the last time we went out for coffee in the morning.  It was fun to finally do so again.

2.  Moving means an nearly endless string of things to take care of, like the Deke having her prescriptions transferred to Target this morning.

3.  For the first time in a long time, the Deke and I were alone in the presence of a television set and could watch a program together and we decided to give Wallander a shot.  I enjoyed Kenneth Branaugh a lot and the two episodes we watched were not only grisly detective stories, but had a visual existential quality -- many shots of emptiness whether in fields, at sea, or parking lots -- and Kurt Wallander himself is a detective doing his work in the face of his existential crises, not the least of which is his sense of malaise, both professional and personal,  which Branagh brilliantly makes physical in his character's gestures and the writers have brought to life in the script. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/27/14: Love and Quiet, My First Yuengling Lager, Everyday Junglist Pale Ale

1.  Yes, there's is nothing wrong with deeply loving grandchildren and being grateful in their absence for the quiet and calm that has settled into Molly and Hiram's home since the family left for a visit in Miami.

2.  The Deke and I went out by ourselves for beers this afternoon for the first time since we left Eugene on June 19th.  For me, it was an historic visit to Shooter McGee's on Duke Street:  I drank my first pint of  Pottsville, Pennsylvania's own Yuengling Lager, made by the oldest brewery in the USA.  Our server, Rob, delivered the Yuengling to the table in a chilled glass, perfect for a lager, and the beer was perfectly satisfying.  I'll definitely drink it again.

3.  The Deke and I made our way over to T. J. Stone's and there, too, I experienced another historic beer moment!  My reading about beer in the D. C. area acquainted me with DC Brau, a D.C. brewery, and I drank my first DC Brau beer this evening:  the Everyday Junglist Pale Ale.  The brewery's description of the beer says I should have tasted "juicy notes of ruby red grapefruit and plump Clementine oranges", but I didn't quite get that far in thinking about what I was drinking.  I just thought it tasted really good.  

Sunday, July 27, 2014

American Film Institute Silver Theater and Cultural Center

I visited the American Film Institute Silver Theater and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, MD for the first time yesterday.  Until I was connected to it via a Twitter recommendation in the last week or so, I had no idea this place existed.

I am ecstatic that I found it.

I'll tell you what made me so happy in this post, but first, let me invite you to check out the Silver Spring Theater's website, here, so you can see how the place presents itself, and, if you'd like to read about the history of the Silver Theater itself, you can read it, here.

I love movies and I often don't pursue my love of movies as forcefully as I might.  Part of what gets in the way of my pursuit of this love is that it's not my sole love.  I'm often enjoying other things in life I love and sometimes watching a movie gets lost in the shuffle of taking pictures, cooking, trying out different beers, spending time in Kellogg, and doing other things.  While I enjoy watching movies at home, sadly, on my small computer screen, I really love going to movie theaters.

I especially love movie theaters that show independent, foreign, and documentary movies -- I loved the Cinema 7 in Eugene until it closed in 1987, and loved the Bijou in Eugene, too, especially the downtown Bijou Metro.

Living, for now, in the Northern Virginia (NoVa) suburbs of Washington, D.C., I realized immediately that it would be no problem to find any number of mall-anchored multi-screen movie emporia showing the latest box office smashes here in the suburbs.

In searching for other movie venues, I was pleased to find the West End Cinema near Foggy Bottom in D. C. as well as the E Street Cinema, The Avalon, and The Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse (The Arlington features all kinds of movies, ranging from Godzilla to The Grand Budapest Hotel to single night showings of MASH and Plan 9 from Outer Space.  The Arlington also features live entertainment some nights). 

I look forward to going to all of these theaters, but I want to live at the AFI Silver Theater. 

It's place devoted to movies in a way I've never seen before.

Let me explain by example, by telling you what is happening at the AFI Silver Theater right now.

For starters, three current independent movies are showing (Snowpiercer, Belle, and Boyhood).  My sense is that the theater is always showing contemporary movies of this sort.

For me, the real fun is found in the multiple film series the Silver Theater runs.  Here's a list of the series currently underway:

  •  A fifteen-movie Burt Lancaster series has run since April and ends on August 2 with a screening of Atlantic City, featuring a talk by his daughter, Joanna. 
  • An Alec Guinness Centennial has been running since July 3 and will end September 15. It features twenty-seven movies from all across Guinness' film career. 
  • Ha!  July through September features a retrospective of thirty-four films from the 80s entitled:  Totally Awesome 8:  Great Films of the 1980s.
  • Cinema and the Great War features thirty-four movies, including several silent films with live musical accompaniment, with WWI as their subject matter.  Again, July through September.
  • A five movie Sergio Leone series wraps up today.
  • Fourteen Mario Bava films will show from July through August.
  • Enjoy Raoul Walsh movies?  Come to Silver Spring in July through September.  Eight of his movies are showing. 
  • Starting Saturday, you can see six Harold Ramis movies, screened in his memory. 
  • And, starting Sunday, six movies will be shown in 70mm, including, to my delight, a movie I've never seen (I can't believe it!), Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet
Right now, I live about an hour or so from Silver Spring via the Fairfax County Connector and the Metro Train.  I'll live much closer via Metro if and when the Deke and I move to Greenbelt, MD. 

When we decided to move to the D.C. area, I was excited to be closer to Molly and Adrienne and I knew from my six day stay with Molly and Hiram back in 2012 that there was a lot I wanted to see and do.

What's really fun now is making new discoveries, like Huntley Meadows Park, right down the street, and, as you can see, the AFI Silver Spring Theater and Culture Center. 

When I retired in June, 2012, I never saw this coming. 

How could I?

Three Beautiful Things 07/26/14: Alec Guinness at AFI SIlver Spring, Perfect Timing, Pizza Farewell

1.  I hopped on the Metro Train and made my way to Silver Spring, MD and to the American Film Institute Silver Theater and Cultural Center.  One of their several film series right now is a two month long Alec Guinness retrospective and I reveled in seeing two of his 1951 Ealing Studio masterpieces:  The Man in the White Suit and The Lavender Hill Mob.  The movies were purely delightful.  I ached with pleasure thanks to Alec Guinness' genius, the riotous farcical scenes in each movie, each film's gorgeous black and white cinematography, and the beauty of the movie theaters I saw these shows in.  I have always dreamed of living where I could go to movie retrospectives and series any day of the week and this AFI facility far exceeds my dreams. Right now, six different film series are running concurrently at AFI Silver Springs.   I'll write a full blog post about it later. 

2.  When I get off the train at Huntington Station on the weekends, the bus I take to get back to Molly and Hiram's only runs once an hour and today, for once, the timing of my train arrival and the bus' departure coincided perfectly.  This happens rarely.

3.  Molly, Hiram, the Deke, David, and Olivia and I ate Z Pizza pizzas together before the Diaz family climbed into their family vehicle and headed off for a visit to Hiram's family in Miami that will last about ten days.  The Deke and I are house/dog/cat sitting while they are gone. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/25/14: Huntley Meadows Wetlands, Suburban Labyrinth, The Lords of Beer Smile on Me

1.  I went for a stroll in Huntley Meadows Park and walked deeper into the park than I had before and gawked at the gorgeous wetlands, stunned that I was in world that contrasts so mightily from the suburban sprawl it rests it the midst of -- and, as if I haven't mentioned this 10000 times already, the park is only a ten minute walk from Molly and Hiram's home.  Here are some pictures of what I enjoyed:

2.  Upon the recommendation of Kathy Williams Harper and Molly and Hiram and after some research showing me that they had both Yeti Imperial Stout and Beckenridge 471 Double IPA, I drove out to Total Wine out in Lincolnia.  I mapped out my route and then, once I got going, confused this destination with another, and took a lousy route to get to Total Wine.  I could have so easily become lost, but, I had enough local knowledge that I recovered.  Coming back home was another story.  It took me about an hour and a half to make wrong turns and get confused and make my way through rush hour traffic, but I saw parts of Alexandria I hadn't seen before and I put enough of my local knowledge to work that I figured out how, eventually, to get home.  A GPS would have helped, but what fun would that have been?

3.  After my hilarious winding through the suburban labyrinth, I arrived home and thought how nice a light, crisp, refreshing summery lager would taste and I knew that last week I had bought two bottles of Sierra Nevada's Summerfest.  I knew I'd drunk one of them and wondered if it were possible that the other bottle had survived nearly a week of sitting in the cooler and the fridge, not to mention Olivia's birthday party and beer lovers who attended it.  Keeping my expectations and hopes low, I looked in the fridge, and there it was!  The Summerfest survived!  It was mine!  It was perfect!  Light. Crisp.  A little citrusy, which I liked a lot, and not at all boozy: light alcohol content and the epitome of refreshing.  The eternal Lords of Beer certainly smiled on me this afternoon. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/24/14: Day Trip to Maryland, Tasty Shawarma Platter, 471 in the 703

1.  The Deke had some paperwork to submit to the principal she'll be working for, so we took a morning drive, first to Lanham, MD, where Robert Goddard French Immersion school used to be housed, and then a drive to Greenbelt, MD where the school has moved.  We drove around Greenbelt a bit, asking ourselves what it might be like to live in Greenbelt and we think it would be good. 

2.  We enjoyed lunch at The New Deal Cafe, a Mediterranean restaurant and cultural hub, in Roosevelt Center in the old part of Greenbelt.  I very much enjoyed my Shawarma Platter, marinated  roasted beef, served with tahini sauce, lettuce & tomato wrapped in pita with a green salad and really flavorful white rice on the side. 

3.  So far, the best place I've found to sit and have a beer is the Whole Foods store on Duke Street in Alexandria (area code 703) and after our trip to Maryland, the Deke and I sat at the horseshoe counter of the little pub and I enjoyed a 10 oz. 471 Double IPA from Breckenridge Brewery in Colorado.  The 471 weighs in at 9.8 ABV and so I sipped on my snifter very slowly and enjoyed 471's wide range of flavors and its warm booziness seemed to make me glow.   

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/23/14: Accident Anniversary, Modem Gone, Learning to Read

1.  On July 23, 1973, forty-one years ago today, at the Bunker Hill Zinc Plant in Kellogg, Idaho, I fell to the bottom of a flash roaster filled with sulfur dioxide gas and dust from zinc and other minerals and survived the accident.  I posted on Facebook that today was the anniversary of this accident and asked anyone who read the post that I would be raising a toast today to my good fortune that I'm still here and have lived so many years after coming so close to losing it all. For anyone reading this blog post, if this anniversary is news to you and if you happen to be having a drink today, whether it's water, an excellent beer, or anything else, please raise your glass toward where I live in Virginia, raise it to the sky, and say, "Cheers!" 

 I'll love that.

2.   I got a few more things taken care of involving our move from Eugene.  Ha!  Century Link doesn't want their old crappy modem/router back and I don't have to box it up and so I can get rid of it.  I don't know why that pleased me so much -- I guess getting rid of it is less hassle.

3. I drove north to Potomac Yards today and bought three novels:  The Moviegoer, Great Expectations, and Crime and Punishment.  I haven't been reading much and I have quite a bit of time to read these days and these are novels that I've always wanted to read, especially because I won't be reading them for professional reasons:  no thoughts about "how to teach them" or about literary criticism or theory or any of those m natters I've retired from.  I really want to learn how to read all over again, in a way, for its own sake, not for the sake of the profession I retired from.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/22/14: No GPS, Rare Hair Day, Chefs Hiram and The Deke

1.  I don't use GPS (yet).  I still read maps, write myself out directions on little memo pads I carry.  I don't sweat getting lost and with memory and a developing sense of where I am, work to find my way to where I'm going.  It's inefficient.  But it sticks.  I "wasted" some time today going to a branch of the United States Senate Federal Credit Union to do some banking, but the payoff was pretty good.  I wandered around, learned more about Alexandria, and I (eventually) got to where I wanted to go, both coming and going.

2.  On my GPS-free meandering around Alexandria, just for the hell of it, I drove to Kingstowne Center and discovered a Safeway, which was convenient since we needed some groceries for dinner.  I bought one round of groceries, took them to the car, and realized I didn't buy chicken, my primary reason for going to Safeway in the first place.  When I bought the chicken, something very rare happened.  The cashier was momentarily struck dumb and then she said, "You have such beautiful hair!"  It was my turn to be struck dumb.  I blushed and thanked her.  I didn't know I could enjoy such a compliment so much.

3. The Deke marinated the chicken and  Hiram took over the cooking chores and we had a crazy delicious simple dinner of chicken breast, the tastiest mashed potatoes I've ever eaten, and a green salad.  I could get used to this:  bring home food, it gets cooked, and Hiram, Molly, the Deke, and I enjoy a splendid dinner.  (Olivia and David eat their own things, dictated by their much narrower tastes....)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/21/14: Sparkling Rainbow Pony, Tart Peche Festina, Moderate Weather

1.  Olivia received two stick horses for her birthday.  She thought only one, the unicorn, was magical.  Upon closer inspection, I saw that the second was a magical horse also.  It's a rainbow pony, maybe even a sparkling rainbow pony.  Now she knows both her stick horses are magical.  It was a fine Grandpa moment.  And a fine one for Olivia, as well!

2.  Today was the first day I had a chance to taste the Dogfish Head Festina Peche, a Berliner Weisse jam packed with peach juice.  It's magnificent.  The peach is perfectly present and complemented by the beer's tartness.  It's not quite a sour ale, but close enough, and I loved this beer.  The Deke brought it home last week as a surprise and I look forward to quaffing a few more of these peachy delights.

3.  I don't know what's going on here in the greater Washington, D.C. area with the weather, but I'm happy to report that after a week living here, we've not been oppressed by quilts of heat and humidity yet.  Sitting out on the deck outside Hiram and Molly's sliding glass door off the kitchen and dining area was pleasant both in the late morning and again in the late afternoon and evening.  I know this will change, but it's been very pleasant to have days like today that are relatively moderate.  No one is wrung out. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 07/20/14: Rory Wins, Beer at Giant, EPIC Party for Olivia

1.  Oerflow at Molly and Hiram's meant that I spent Saturday night and will spend tonight at the Ft. Belvoir/Mt. Vernon Best Western and that means having a television and I this morning I was up at 6 a.m to take full advantage by watching the coverage of the British Open from start to finish, made even more fun by swapping expert commentary and witty quips with Rick Wainright on Facebook.

2.  Before arriving at Olivia's EPIC birthday party, I stopped in Giant to pick up some Coca-cola and ice and took a few minutes to peruse their beer selection and it's really good.  I look forward to dropping in there from time to time to bring home some brands of beer that are totally new to me.

3.  Olivia's EPIC birthday party was, for the most part, a gathering of euphonium players and their families.  No one broke out a horn.  I enjoyed meeting Hiram and Molly's friends and all the kids (except Joey) who came loved the bounce house.  Olivia enjoyed herself and was very excited by the fine birthday gifts she received.  I wasn't around for the aftermath, but I hope Molly, Hiram, Adrienne, and the Deke felt that all their efforts to put on an EPIC party resulted in a good one.