Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why Popcorn?

Going on ten posts on this blog now and have not paid adequate homage to "Popcorn" which in this blog's title suggest I should, hate dishonesty in advertising!
Popcorn and movies goes together like...popcorn and movies. For me personally it started laying on my grandparents wood floors, gaurded by the cold next to their rock fireplace and on top of large braid rugs, that my grandma could still point out my uncles little cotton T shirts from the 50's woven in to,  watching Sunday TV- shows like Rawhide, Mutual of Omaha 's Wild Kingdom and the Wonderful World of Disney. My grandpa loved popcorn- and it has always been an acceptable Sunday evening dinner in my family, popped by hand on top of the stove in an old fashioned popper you have to stand over  the burner to turn the internal paddle that keeps the kernels moving across the hot pan.
Where to start with popcorn- its history or my family history with it- I think I will start on a personal note. My grandpa was a farmers in Minnesota, before the doctors told him he should go West due to his health. That was when my mother was in High School, so by the time I came along we were entrenched in living in Colorado, but returned to the farms of Freeborn County often to visit. Going East- in the 70's, we took Coors beer and 501 Levis - two things unattainable and much desired by our relatives- and coming home we brought  back popcorn- popcorn grown on my families own land.

Popcorn cobs are small and hard- sometimes we could get it already off the husks and sometime we had to do that part ourselves, twisting it in our hands protected by leather gloves letting the kernels fall into big brown paper bags.
As each great niece or nephew graduated from High School, my great Uncle Edmond would gift us with a full brown grocery bag of popcorn, mine lasted until sometime in my Sophomore year- generously sharing the small but unbelievably nutty fluffiness with my friends and roommates and trying to recruit them to the joy of my favorite Sunday dinner.
My great uncle is gone, and no one else still grows the popcorn- and the shelves at the grocery store are shrinking the choices of unpopped kernels and replacing them with nine billion varieties of microwave bags, which by the way my Navajo students loved to rip apart after the popcorn was gone and suck the last bit of whatever the butter substitute was that the paper was satrated with- but that is another blog-
Luckily there is still Orval Redenbacher- pretty descent and looking out my upstairs window where I sit on my bed- I can see the red dirt of Yellowjack and Cahone and further to the north is Dovecreek- where dryland farming - meaning no irrigating- beans, sunflowers and yes popcorn is still grown and I can buy popcorn that is not as good as that of my uncles, but at least hints at the nutty goodness I remember- If Adobe Milling ever stops growing popcorn, I will just have to pick up the family tradition of growing our own in my own backyard- hummmmm- might do that anyway!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Nowdays, everyone is a critic...

Was literally "stuck" in Las Vegas for almost a week while my sweet little, second degree brown belt daughter happily karate chopped and kicked her way through a conference. I have one word for Las Vegas- YUCK! It is full of glittery lights, little old ladies wheeling their walkers through the 103 degree parking lots to get to the air conditioned casinos where they will gamble away their Social Security checks and the strip- where on the sidewalk, the goal seems to be to wear the least amount of clothes as possible, leaving nothing up to the imagination and above are countless billboards of faceless women's bodies also leaving nothing up to the imagination.
Well there I was- so what did I do, went to movies of course- saw Knight and Day- actually twice, because frankly the other choices, echoing the summer layout of movies, just didn't interest me.
FYI- Diaz and Cruise previously starred in Vanilla Sky in 2001 together , not one of my favorite Cruise movies, and according to IMDB she was a uncredited woman on the subway in Cruises Minority Report in 2002- humm? must of stopped by for lunch on the set or something and did a cameo for kicks.
I actually liked Knight and Day, way more then I had thought I would - since it had Cameron Diaz in it, not my favorite actress, an actress that how can I say this nicely, has gotten ahead in her career more for her "pieces and parts" like the faceless models on the billboards in Las Vegas then on her acting chops. I don't think I have ever paid to see a movie she is in twice.
Tom Cruise is another story- there are very few movies of his I have not seen, like Eyes Wide Shut, where the premise has no interest to me- but he can act- when he wants to-
Well according to Yahoo Movies- Knight and Day is not doing well- the Critics have given it only a C +- with grades from the Boston Globe, Chicago Sun Times and E! Online.
But....according to an article by James Wolcott in the July issue of Vanity Fair ( which came out about the 3rd of June?) on the "threatened species of Film Critics" - he believes that the scholarly critic that we just assumed knew more than we did what made a movie good so listened to them- is now a dying breed- replaced by Moi......! So now instead of thumbing through a newspaper or magazine to be told what movies are good and worth your bucks to see- you can go online to someone like me who can tell you Cameron Diaz can't act.
But movies, along with art, music and books- unless they are very, very bad- are subjective- what I like, you might not like- proven all the time in my group of friends. So we like each other a lot, hang with each other, even travel across the country together and get a long great, like the same food- but when it comes to movies- nope- what I like they don't- so how can a critic or I tell you what you like.
And reality is - people will like structurally bad, poorly written movies- i.e.- Twilight--All movies have to do is strike a chord in you- if they do, for whatever reason, you like them, if not, you don't- I don't think there is a way to convince someone to like a movie- but I do know that a bunch of hype, a bunch of friends telling you- you have to go see a movie- cause they are sure you will just love it- is a pretty good way to get some to NOT like a movie- because our human nature is to be "difficult" and we really, really hate to be told what to do.

Last Note: I don't like the movie poster- which to me screams classic 60's spy movie- which this movie is nothing about- the sillhouettes don't even look like Crusie and Diaz- okay I am done being a critic...for now.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I DO like Summer Blockbusters!!

On our way to San Francisco we stayed the first night in Salt Lake and headed to the mall to watch the just released summer blockbuster- "Prince of Persia". Okay, I'm sorry but that movies pretty much did not have a point, other than to show Jake Gyllenhaal buff muscles, mostly in slow-mo and often with water also flinging through the air

I told that to my daughter ( when she asked me) as we made our way to our car and had basically the whole family accuse me of since my pursuit of writing professionally- I have just become un-fun movie critic.

Okay I do say things like- "there was a lot of exposition in the first five minute" or " they really did not successfully pay off the set ups from the first act" that make my families eyes roll- but I DO like movies- and there are several what would be dubbed "Summer Blockbuster- just turn our brain off movies that I enjoy- that ALSO had a point or more of a point than- " adopted son of Emperor has major opportunity to show off muscles as he clicks magical knife and rescues a girl, but really not because she is pretty tough." Throw in the "Ground Day" repeat of scenes and it got painful to watch.

There are Summer Block Busters with somewhat of a point-

Mission Impossible- especially MI2
The scene where Tom Cruise is walking through the "Burning of the Saints" festival on his way to meet Anthony Hopkins who is his handler and is going to, well, burn him- is pretty poetic.
The new James Bond movies, the character development that is woven through Daniel Craig, ahhhh, killing everyone- is some good writing in my opinion. Casino Royale really refreshed a franchise that was running out of new ideas.

The Bourne Identity has its sweet moments, like when driving to Paris,  Matt Damon tells "the girl" listening to her talk, he can now finally relax and their romance is woven through all the violence- refreshing!

So there you go, just because there are big action sequences, things blow up and blood spattering in slow-motion doesn't mean you have to lose the story!