Sunday, March 28, 2010

An idea so crazy it just might work?

Here is the idea: I drink less. But wait, let me elaborate...

So I drink pretty regularly. This is not a news flash. It's just true. I like booze, especially wine. 

Early last year my love of wine induced me to buy Leith a position in a beginner's wine appreciation course, and to go along with him myself (super generous of me, huh). I found the course incredibly stimulating, and not just because I was drinking six wines a night, although that was an obvious perk. I found I not only liked wine, but was interested in it too, and the more I was understood it, the better it tasted. Older wine is gooder wine and so on. Partly I think the intrigue I have developed is due to the fact that wine, and particularly the range of factors that deliver the attributes of a given wine, is complex. So knowing why a certain wine tastes the way it does feels a bit like solving a puzzle. Only more delicious. Yes, I am basically one of those wankers from Sideways. Sorry folks.

So anyway, wouldn't you just know it, this course gave me a taste for a lot of relatively expensive wines. I'm not talking Grange Hermitage or anything. But $30 bottles, and including styles that are only ever imported. I can get more pleasure from 'browsing' in a decent wine cellar (at this point I would like to give a shoutout to Rathdowne Cellars, which is bloody brilliant) than I do in a shoe store. Just this afternoon I impulse bought a Petit Chablis with no intention of drinking it today or at any anticipated occassion, simply because it was good value and I like Chablis. I buy wine. As I bought it, I considered what else I might have bought if I'd splurged that money on some other thing, and the wine seemed like a pretty sound purchase.

And yet at the same time as this, I still participate in my typical weekly shindigs involving events (dinners, bands, theatre, comedy, birthdays, movies etc etc) most nights of the week, when I'm not working like a demon. This week was just such a routine, with me having slightly more festive (read: late (read: midnight *gasp*)) nights out than usual, and having them daily. And drinking at all of them. Not guzzling it down then walking into a lamp-post drinking. Just festive, social drinking with dinner and maybe one or two after, and then failing to get up for a run AGAIN the following morning and devouring cheesymite scrolls at my desk the next day a little more than I should.

And so, by Saturday morning, following yet another night that didn't go later than midnight but still involved beer and wine and tequila and beer, I felt a little crappy. Not blistering hangover crappy. More a feeling that all my internal organs were a bit grey and shrivelled, and the spot on my back where I imagine my liver to be was actually a bit tender. A bit gross you say? Agreed.

So this weekend I had one of those bleary-eyed couple of days where I didn't do much at all. I didn't sleep in, but I did read the papers whilst in bed, I drank tea, read books, watched movies. Went for a long walk, cooked quite a bit of food, drank craploads of water and exercised rather vigorously both days. Not out of piousness, just because it was genuinely what I felt like doing. And, I had my idea.

Now before I tell you what it is, let me just say that I'm not signing up to it right now or anything. I'm not a convert. I'm just twirling it around in my brain, letting the 'light' (ie sluggish mental reflection) catch it from various angles, seeing how it looks. Right now it doesn't look stupid, but then I've been sober for two days.

Ok. So. I'm thinking that I should conserve the value of my overall investment in alcohol, let's say on a weekly basis, BUT convert quantity for quality. So no drinking pots from unclean taps in shitty pubs. No drinking the house red (unless I'm in a genuinely decent bar). And in fact, to help with all this, limited weekday drinking in general (I'd settle for 3 AFDs a week). And the other times, crack open a really nice Cotes du Rhone with dinner. Just because. Buy aged reisling and drink it in the sun on Sunday afternoon whilst reading my book. On my own if necessary. And so on. 

At the moment, after a dry weekend, and still feeling more run down than I should, I think it sounds alright. I plan to road test it this weekend, and will report back on the state of my wallet, my sanity and my liver in due course.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rating the films of Will Ferrell

On Saturday night Mel and I had a Will Ferrell movie night slash sleepover. Leith joined us for movies number 2 and 3, and Marcus rocked up after work for the second half of proceedings too. 

Mel and I were both hella excited. While it's awesome that we have a spare room and so Mel was able to actually stay on a mattress in a room to herself, a part of me wished she and I were lying on the living room floor in sleeping bags like sleepovers of yore. We would eat sherberty lollies and cake-decorating sugar flowers stolen from the cupboard, in order to stay up all night giggling and doing arithmetic games to determine who we would one day marry. 

We watched Old School, Blades of Glory and Talladega Nights. We were going to watch Anchorman but we all got too sleepy. Leith really wanted to see Stranger Than Fiction, but we agreed that it was too different a kind of movie (though also awesome) to fit within the marathon we'd planned.  I also have a hankering to see Step Brothers, and it remains high on the list.

Prior to Saturday I would have ranked these movies thus (favourite to least favourite):

Talladega Nights
Blades of Glory
Old School

After Saturday my rankings have shifted somewhat, to this:

Blades of Glory
Talladega Nights
Old School

Anchorman is the undisputed Gold Standard. Leith and Marcus both felt that Old School is one of the best of the bunch, and I have to agree that it remains hilarious over repeated viewings. However, I feel it falls down compared to Anchorman for two reasons. 

Reason one is that Old School has no strong, or even particularly interesting female protagonist. Christina Applegate in Anchorman provides some of the biggest laughs, and I enjoyed her character's powerlust and exquisite breasts enormously. Reason two is that while Anchorman sports an impressive ensemble cast who ensure that every line is a doozy, Old School is really carried, in my opinion, by Ferrell. Vince Vaughan plays Vince Vaughan extremely well, and Luke Wilson does his adorable self proud as well, but it's Ferrell who is non-stop hilarious from start to finish.

Talladega Nights really slipped in my opinion. I hadn't seen it in years, and while the moments of sheer ridiculous were still there (cougar in the car, the endless shake and bake, the obligitary Ferrell nudie streaking scene) I felt that the shape of the movie wasn't as good as it could have been. Specifically, the first 20 to 30 minutes of exposition feels drawn out and too long. Additionally, the initially very funny 'poke fun at rednecks' theme actually waned for me on this viewing. I'm not sure, but I suspect that greater exposure to what my mother might refer to as The Great Unwashed made me recoil more and laugh less at these characters. Also telling is that the best five minutes of Talladega Nights is the closing credits where Ferrell and John C. Reilly are simply riffing to camera. It's tea-comes-out-of-your-nose funny.

On the other hand, Blades of Glory improved in my estimation on this viewing. Originally I'd found it very funny but had felt that Jon Heder's character wasn't strong enough against Ferrell. I also found the film a bit (I can't believe I'm writing this) two-dimensional. However, in the wake of the recent Winter Olympics and some of the delightful skating personalities it exposed us to, I found it utterly enthralling and silly and ten kinds of wonderful. So I moved it up the charts.

Before my chart can really be completed, I feel I have to see Step Brothers, and this is a viewing burden I am most happy to bear.


So I watched Step Brothers. It was pretty bad. It goes to the bottom of the list.