Sunday, November 24, 2013

Kale-o, Newman! Could Newman Be the New Face of Kale?

I recently read that kale has anti-inflammatory properties. According to Carolyn Butler, writing in the Washington Post of September 25, 2012, kale—a leafy relative of broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower—contains 45 different flavonoids that possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Quoting Deirdre Orceyre, a naturopathic physician at the Center for Integrative Medicine at George Washington University Medical Center, in that same article: kale has “a range of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in the body.”

I immediately thought this would make for a great marketing opportunity for kale producers. Based on Newman’s “When you control the mail, you control... information!” rant in Episode 70 of Seinfeld, “The Lip Reader,” I urge the Kale Marketing Board, or whatever the hell exists that promotes the stuff, to hire Wayne Knight to reprise the scene in which he threatens Jerry with postal retribution for not letting him “borrow” his new lip-reading girlfriend. Nothing could better trumpet kale’s benefit to the human body than Newman reassuring the American public that “When you control the kale, you control…inflammation!” as he displays his not-so-inflamed hands.

Then again, as he did with kale’s unsavory cousin, broccoli, Newman would very likely take a bite and spit it out in disgust, exclaiming “Vile weed!” So maybe those kale folks should consider Frank Costanza as corporate spokesman—he probably doesn't find kale as distracting as tinsel... 

(Images from Seinfeld copyright NBC.)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

When the Law of the Land Is the Second Amendmant

I've long heard of this film, but I never knew what it was about (I think I always mistook it for 1966's run-for-your-life nail-biter, The Naked Prey). The description of The Naked Jungle on the Comcast grid:
"Charlton Heston plays a plantation owner threatened by soldier ants."
Here's the problem with Chuck: he's so obsessed with guns that, whatever the threatening situation, he deals with it using firearms, regardless of how ill-suited they may be. I wonder how that shotgun worked out for him against thousands of marauding ants? I assume the film ends with Chuck blowing his legs off as he tries to shoot the numerous ants crawling up him...eventually lying in his own gore, angrily lamenting his foolish faith in guns between wails of insufferable agony...
What the hell did those NRA nuts see in this dope anyway?
Furthermore, The Naked Jungle was released in 1954how did they know Heston was gonna win the Oscar for Ben-Hur five years later? Hell, how did they know Ben-Hur was even gonna be made???
(For more on Charlton Heston and his gun fixation, see the Mount Drinkmore post, "Heston Peace,  Charlton," of April 11, 2008, located in the archive at left, or use keywords Charlton Hestonentertainment, film, or In Memoriam.)
(Image of The Naked Jungle movie poster copyright Paramount Pictures.)  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wedge Would Give This Eatery the Edge

Last night, I was treated to dinner at Butcher and Singer, the swanky Steven Starr steakhouse at 15th and Walnut. As you can see under the salad selections, this establishment offers “The Wedge”—a large slice of iceberg lettuce drenched in a bacon-and-Bleu-cheese Russian dressing.

Now, maybe my proclivity for free-associative thinking was abetted by dining in a Steven Starr restaurant, but, upon first sight of it, I immediately conjured the idea of Wedge, the Rebel Alliance pilot who flew alongside Luke Skywalker in Star Wars and played a key role in all three films of the first trilogy, emerging from the kitchen in full pilot uniform and serving me The Wedge while regaling me with priceless anecdotes from the set and personal war stories from the Star Wars universe.

After all, the actor who portrayed Wedge, Denis Lawson, also played the ubiquitous Gordon Urquhart, the hotelier, chartered accountant, and community negotiator who also waited tables in his MacAskill Arms dining room, in one of my very favorite films, Local Hero. Expert in both roles, it would be no stretch to have the aproned innkeeper who served meals to his guests do so for me while dressed instead as the orange-jumpsuited fighter ace who helped send both Death Stars to their doom.       

And as Wedge placed The Wedge in front of me, I think it would go a little something…like this:

“Look at the size of that thing!” I marvel at the large, ludicrously priced wedge of lettuce. Appreciating my homage to his most famous line of dialogue, Wedge then pours me a 42-year-old scotch like the one Urquhart serves up in Local Hero.

Slàinte,” he toasts me.

“Good shooting, Wedge,” I commend his expert pouring ability before taking a swig.

“I can’t stay with you,” Wedge confesses, needing to return to the kitchen.

“Get back there, Wedge. You can’t do anymore good out here,” I urge gratefully.

“Sorry,” Wedge laments in his Corellia-by-way-of-Furness accent, peeling off toward the kitchen. And as I dig into my ridiculously, just insanely overpriced chunk of iceberg lettuce with a little dressing drizzled on it, I am wholly satisfied with the wait service from the best damn pilot the Alliance ever had. 

(Image of Butcher and Singer menu copyright Steven Starr Restaurants; image from Star Wars copyright Lucasfilm; image from Local Hero copyright Warner Brothers.)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sometimes You'd Better Not Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Cheers was the sitcom of the 1980s. Combining relatable and lovable characters with witty punch lines, the Boston bar–based show reached the top ten in ratings for eight of its eleven seasons and remains one of the most beloved comedies in the annals of television.

Perhaps just as remembered as the characters themselves is Cheers’ opening credits, with its ultra-catchy “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” theme song and colorized archival photos of barflies who strongly resembled their onscreen counterparts.

Many viewers wondered about what the newspaper headline WE WIN! bragged. (The elderly bartender proudly holding up the paper is not intended to represent George Wendt’s character, Norm, whose counterpart is shown seconds before this; Wendt’s name merely remains onscreen as this implicit nod to the deceased Ernie “Coach” Pantusso concludes the opening credits.)

Looking closer at the contents of this newspaper, we can see that below the primary headline, on the right, it reads “As Cards Lose to Bu...”

This indicates that this famous local photo dates from the Boston Braves clinching the 1948 National League pennant. As the second-place St. Louis Cardinals lost, 2-1, to the Pittsburgh Pirates (the “Bu...cs”) on September 29, Boston simultaneously defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers, 4-3, concluding a torrid 18-6 September for the Braves and putting Boston up by 6 games. With only 5 games remaining for the Cardinals, the Braves had claimed their first pennant since 1914.

What doesn’t ring true in the context of the sitcom is that, by the time Cheers premiered in 1982, the Boston Braves were but a dim memory in Bostonian minds, having abandoned Beantown for Milwaukee after the 1952 season. Thus, the Braves hadn’t been part of Boston culture for three decades. Add to that the fact that Boston was, even during the Braves’ few glory years, undeniably a Red Sox town—with ex–Red Sox reliever Sam Malone giving the bar added Sox cachet—and the use of this photo seems deceptive.

Sure, Bostonians were rightfully proud of their Braves heading to the World Series—but those folks were dead or infirmed by the time Cheers was “open for business.”

Let’s be frank about that proud and pugilistically inclined city: Had a patron come into Cheers and openly rooted for the Atlanta Braves because he or she had remained a diehard Braves supporter from their days in Boston, those Cheers regulars would have beaten that fan with a ferocity that would have made The Depahhted look like The Sound of Music.

Not to single out Bostonians, though—had an Oakland A’s supporter showed his true colors in Paddy’s Pub, you can be sure that Sweet Dee and the rest of the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia crew would have gone Smokin’ Joe Frazier on his traitorous ass.

(Images of Cheers credits copyright NBC.)