Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I promised cocktail recipes, didn't I?

Second-Best Margaritas
(Yours are probably better, or the ones in that restaurant you like, but other than those, these are the second best)

Juice of 1 lime
1 spoon sugar
1/2 jigger triple sec
1 jigger Tequila

Shake and serve in a salt-rimmed glass up or over ice.

  • 1/2 jigger bottled lime or lemon juice instead of fresh
  • Simple syrup instead of granulated sugar. But I've found that the proper amount of sugar is just what will dissolve in the cold drink. There should be some undissolved sugar left in the shaker.
  • Cointreau or Grand Marnier for triple sec. Blue Curacao makes nice blue margaritas, but they taste about the same
  • For tequila, I recommend the cheapest brand that costs more than Cuervo. Patron Silver makes a great tequila, but it's kind of a waste. High-priced tequilas should be sipped solo, not poured in mixed drinks.
Enjoy, and let me know your recipe.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Hi, I'm Beveridge D. Spenser, your host and sometimes bartender. I hope we'll have many happy weeks together on this, my blog.

My idea is to post my thoughts on the movies I watch each week on Netflix, with a few cocktail recipes thrown in. You see, I'm a little obsessed with my Netflix queue - always trying to get the perfect mix. Ideally, I like to watch a movie on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. I like to have a mix of classic, contemporary and campy, or action, romance and comedy. I plan my 3 picks carefully, with cross-resonating themes, callbacks, and intertextuality. So I want to share.

I like comedies, preferably old, preferably screwball (Bringing Up Baby!). I like action, preferably with some comedy (Jackie Chan!). Even film noir can be funny. I just saw the Maltese Falcon in a theater, and the audience kept cracking up. Maybe I'll say more about my tastes, maybe they will become apparent as I go along.

Finally, why the blog? I'm hoping you, the reader, will find a new film to watch or a new way to appreciate a film. More than that, I hope you'll comment and tell me a new film to watch. So welcome, and don't be shy.

Rolling start

This week's movies:

Film Crew: Hollywood After Dark
Mrs. Spenser and I love Mystery Science Theater 3000. We got cable solely to watch this show, and dropped cable when it was canceled. We have seen every episode available, and have access, through shadowy connections, to bootlegs of most of them. Yes, and we watch them based on implied oral consent, rather the explicit written consent! We always hoped that someday, that Mike and the 'Bots would be back, making the worst films in the world funnier.
Our prayers have been answered.
The Film Crew is Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, playing themselves. Yes, our 'Bots have become real live boys. They are no longer trapped in a satellite, but have honest jobs, commenting on films that are as yet uncommented-upon.
The first film is a dark and sleazy film about losers and strippers called Hollywood After Dark. It features Rue McClanahan (of Golden Girls fame) as a stripper with a heart of gold, or something. I haven't seen a less convincing stripper in a movie since Demi Moore in Striptease, although Barbara Stanwycke comes close in Lady of Burlesque.
Now, I'm using "sleazy" in the technical sense - "sleazies" are low-budget films that show a bit of girl flesh in a squalid, sleazy setting. ("Cuties" are more upbeat, "roughies" include more violence). So there is some exotic dancing, and pretty keen, in my opinion. I've always been a fan of gratuitous go-go dancing. But that is the only thing nice I can find to say about the movie.
There's also this guy, and an incoherent crime, and this other guy... Never mind. Only the Film Crew makes this movie watchable.

The Net
I wanted to see this for two reasons. 1) It was partly filmed at a MacWorld conference I attended. 2) Gee, Sandra Bullock is cute.
The Net is a great nostalgia kick for people who knew Macs in the mid-90s. For children of today, it must seem very strange. The Internet was known, but not webpages("internet addresses" meant IP addresses or telnet, not URLs). Sharp graphics in computer games meant Castle Wolfenstein. And yet, geeks took their laptops (1st gen Powerbooks?) to the beach, and you could tell they wanted WiFi, without knowing what it was.
But the compu-nostalgia is the least of the movie's charms. The greatest is Sandra Bullock. I haven't watched a lot of her movies, but I take it that she is the go-to girl when you want a poorly socialized, geeky, unglamorous character played by a fantastically beautiful actress. (See Miss Congeniality). She does that quite well in this movie. Of course, a real computer geek would be a pasty fat guy, not a beautiful woman, but she signals that she has agoraphobic neuroses and some other personality problems, and you can just about suspend belief. She has a little monologue where she talks about her (lack of) sexual experience, and you completely believe it. She is just a shy, geeky, near virgin, with cheekbones to die for.
I'm skipping over the plot, which involves unlikely computer viruses that erase all record of her existence, etc. It mostly holds together. Some scenes are even likely - a high-speed car chase ends almost instantly in a crash. And Bullock is never too smart, guessing the whole plot, or too dumb, going along well past when she should have figured something out.
There is also a lot not to like here - the director is very clunky, and fond of pointless closeups of mouths. I'll overlook that for Sandra.

The Man Who Never Was
Clifton Webb plays supercilious know-it-alls like nobody else. I'm sorry that his Mr. Belvedere movies aren't available on Netflix. In The Man Who Never Was, he plays a British intelligence officer in London during WWII, pulling a complicated scam on the Germans.
The movie is very toned down. One of the best scenes has the team quietly going about their business while bombs fell above, barely looking up when they hit. There's a love story, and a German spy who may be able to see through the plot. All finely acted, although the scam seems a little lightweight in these days of CSI. Surely any German forensic scientist would have seen right through it.

Next week's three:
The Film Crew: Killers from Space - We are not going to ration these, we're going to watch them all.
They Live - I think this should go well with Killers from Space.
The Guns of Navarone - The Man Who Never Was made me want to see this again.