Monday, December 30, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 12/29/19: *Casino Royale*, Winter Warmer, Meatloaf Casserole for Family Dinner

1. I waded into the world of James Bond this afternoon by watching Daniel Craig's first movie as Bond, Casino Royale. My sense is that I live in a world where many people have a highly developed idea of what James Bond should be. I don't. So I'll dispense with question number one: Did I think Daniel Craig was a good Bond?

I don't know. I'll leave that discussion to the Bond-ologists of the world.

I figured coming into this movie that the plot would be preposterous.

It was.

I figured I'd see outrageous heroics. I did. In an early foot chase scene through a construction site in Madagascar, I wondered why Bond and Mollaka, the bomb maker he chased, weren't Olympians. I've never seen two humans demonstrate such speed and endurance running long distances nor have I seen two humans who could leap like Bond and Mollaka.

Likewise, Bond proved himself to be a capable driver of various vehicles, ranging from an earth mover to a gasoline tanker to an Aston Martin and, for the most part, maneuvered them adroitly while in vehicular chase scenes, even proving himself able to punch and be punched while driving the gas tanker.

I figured Bond would experience sexual diversion.

He did.

I felt impatient during these chases and sex scenes.

I enjoyed the intrigue of his work as a spy much more and, I thought, Daniel Craig was at his best as an actor when Bond's mind was at work (in the poker scenes, for example) and when he was matching wits and his will both with the movie's villains and with his boss, M (I enjoyed Judi Dench much more than Bond's lovers).

I appreciated Daniel Craig's acting range in this movie. His Bond was complex. He was, by turns, forthright, insecure, arrogant, tender, smart, outsmarted, insightful, blind, vulnerable, and implacable. When the movie developed Bond's character, I enjoyed it much more than when the movie indulged in sensation, special effects, and seduction.

I might watch another Bond movie one day, but I'm not hooked.

In fact, watching Casino Royale moved me to want to go back and watch more subdued spy stories like The Spy Who Came in from the Cold or Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

2. By around 4:00 or so, Debbie had her family dinner preparations under control, I had returned from going to the liquor store and Yoke's for some last minute purchases, and I had finished vacuuming. We yakked for a while. I popped open a pint of Stormbreaker's Winter Coat, a malty winter warmer brewed with raspberries. I didn't expect this beer to be a memory bomb, but it was. It transported me back to 1996-97 when I first began drinking microbrews, most often at McMenamins in Eugene, both at High Street and 19th. As I remember it, at that time, beers were not as hoppy as many beers have been over the last 10-15 years. Drinking this Stormbreaker Winter Coat took me back to pints of Brown Ale, Nebraska Bitter, Kris Kringle (a winter warmer), and other maltier beers. In fact, I had some dim memories of drinking pints of less hop forward beers in England forty years ago in 1979. I enjoyed thinking back to when, in my mind, at least, hops were in the royal family, but hops weren't necessarily king, and I thought about how much I enjoy these maltier beers when the weather gets cold and a sweeter beer warms my belly and tastes just right.

3.  Debbie and I hosted family dinner tonight. Over the years, on my birthday, Debbie has often fixed me a meatloaf dinner. She offered to do it on my birthday again this year, but I said I thought I'd like a lighter dinner on the 27th, knowing I'd be eating at Waddell's that day for lunch. We agreed that a meatloaf dinner would work great for family dinner on the 29th.

And that's what Debbie prepared.

Debbie found a recipe for a meatloaf casserole. It involved lining the bottom of a casserole dish with sliced potatoes and topping the spuds with meatloaf mix and baking it for about seventy minutes.

I loved having the potatoes and meatloaf combined in a single dish. Debbie fixed a tasty side dish of kale and we enjoyed a bottle of Pinot Noir together. Christy contributed a superb cranberry/apple/currant pie served with vanilla ice cream. It was a most memorable family dinner!

Everyone got together in the living room about a half an hour before we ate and I had fun mixing drinks in my cocktail shaker: Carol and Paul requested a Chelsea Sidecar and Christy and Everett enjoyed a Manhattan. I fixed myself a gin martini and I don't think Debbie had a cocktail until after dinner when I mixed her an Old-Fashioned.

These classic cocktails are fun to mix and it's fun when family members enjoy them so much.

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