Sunday, April 10, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 04/09/16: American City Diner, Learning Tenley Circle, Hop Bomb BONUS: Loneliness at the Movies

1. The Deke gave a workshop for teachers of foreign language today at a conference in D. C.  at the National Cathedral School. After I dropped her off, I continued my quest for a diner that serves a breakfast worthy of, say, The Breakfast Nook in Coeur d'Alene or Cornucopia in Eugene. I don't need to find such a place here in the D. C. Metro area, but the quest is really fun.  From spotting it while driving on Connecticut Ave NW and from reading a list of D. C. diners published online, I was aware of American City Diner, a chrome-ish old school looking diner with pictures of celebrities like James Dean and Marilyn Monroe plastered all over the place and booths with juke boxes. It's an older place, worn, a little run down, and very friendly. While drinking a regular cup of coffee, I ordered a corned beef hash breakfast, with just the slightest hope that maybe the hash would be homemade, but it wasn't. However, my eggs were cooked just right, the home fries were solid, and I ordered an English muffin because I've given up on any of these D. C. diners serving excellent bread. If I'm in the neighborhood again at breakfast time, I'll go back, but I won't drive the thirty minutes or so from home it takes to get there.  It's not special trip worthy, but I had a good time at American City Diner and left feeling satisfied.

2. If you read these posts I make every day, you might be picking up on how I revel in small victories when it comes to driving in Washington, D. C.  I performed an imaginary happy dance behind the wheel of the Sube today when I went back to the National Cathedral School to pick up the Deke. This morning, when I headed toward the National Cathedral School on Nebraska Ave, suddenly (for me) Tenley Circle popped up and the robot voice coming out of the little computer, also called a phone,  I carry in my pocket told me to go into Tenley Circle and exit onto Wisconsin Ave.  The problem for me, when I drove into the circle this morning, was that there were no signs pointing an ignorant driver (like me) to Wisconsin Ave.  This morning, rather than leaving the circle on Wisconsin Ave., I accidentally stayed on Nebraska Ave. I recovered easily, got over to Wisconsin Ave via Warren, but I was bound and determined to figure out where and how to get on Wisconsin Ave coming out of the Tenley Circle.  I got back to our apartment home, summoned a map online, studied Tenley Circle, and, aha!, I got it.  When I returned to Tenley Circle this afternoon, I trusted my memory of the map, didn't depend on the robot's directions, and I did it! I left Tenley Circle and got onto Wisconsin Ave. -- without the robot and with no sign in sight telling me where Wisconsin Ave. was.  Small victory. Huge relief.

3. The Deke had a great time at the conference, was really tired, wanted to relax with a beer, so we went to the Old Line Bistro, plopped ourselves down at the bar, and I enjoyed my first ever DC Brau Citizen -- a Belgian-styled pale ale -- and then ordered a small snifter of one of the strongest, hoppiest, most potent beers I've ever tasted:  Lagunita's The Waldos' Special Ale.  It was a hop bomb beyond my imagining, strong, bitter, dank, mighty, and virtuous. It's not to be fooled with nor to be ordered by those looking for balance in a beer. Waldos' Special Ale is mirthfully extreme!

BONUS: I've decided to go back and watch some movies I first saw between about 1975 and 1988.  For some reason, the other day, I was suddenly arrested by curiosity about the movie Eye of the Needle which featured Kate Nelligan and Donald Sutherland.  I saw it in Eugene in the fall of 1980 with my first wife and I remember, afterward, making snarky, smart alecky (immature?) comments about the waterlogged Donald Sutherland at the movie's conclusion.  Why making these smarty pants comments sticks in my memory remains a mystery, but I decided to order the movie through Interlibrary Loan and see how I might experience it thirty-six years later.

The movie unsettled me, discomfited me. Donald Sutherland's Nazi spy character is as close to absolutely amoral and alienated as any character I've experienced -- he plays a character who has no hesitation about continuing a love affair with the woman whose husband he just murdered and who commits a series of flash murders in the movie, murders committed instantaneously, numbly, without premeditation and without regret.  The story studied the deep loneliness of Kate Nelligan's character and this, too, unsettled me. Her character, along with the profoundly lonely characters in Choose Me, have elicited memories of my own periods of deep loneliness in my life and I'm developing a deeper understanding of the impact loneliness has had on decisions I've made, things I've done (or left undone), and the ways I've thought about meaning and purpose in my life while very lonely. I don't really like having these memories pop up, but it's been good to reflect upon the way loneliness can distort perceptions and judgment and how we relate to others -- and these movies have prompted memories and thoughts I hadn't expected.

Next 1980s movie?  Mona Lisa.

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