The Functional Hermit

musings from a homebody

Archive for July 2009

Hermit Cinema: Pineapple Express

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pineapple-express-2008-dvd

I was once a big-time stoner. There, it’s out there. All those who were planning to do so can now forget about putting their support behind me as the next presidential candidate, though my other qualifications are clearly stellar.

Because of my past, I’m all too familiar with the fact that a few tokes sometimes leads you down some crazy road that ends in some unimaginably bizarre situation that only crazed reverse logic can get you out of. Right there is the premise behind Pineapple Express.

Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) is a incorrigible stoner working as a process server. This requires him to dress in many different ways to fit into various environments, allowing him to ambush the unsuspecting party with a subpoena. As long as he’s stocked with weed and a few costumes in the trunk, he’s ready to roll. He stops by Saul’s (James Franco), his dealer to replenish his supply. There he is offered the ultimate weed, Pineapple Express; a weed so supreme and rare, Saul (the dealer) is the only one in the city who sells it.

Unfortunately for Dale, he witnesses a murder while sitting in his car smoking a joint. He’s killing time before serving papers to Ted Jones (Gary Cole) and witnesses Jones assassinating a drug-dealing rival with his paid-off, dirty-cop assisting (Rosie Perez). He panics, throws the joint of Pineapple Express he’s smoking out the window and smashes cars while getting away which draws the murderers’ attention.

Ted Jones picks up the joint, takes a hit, recognizes the weed and immediately realizes he can track this person down because there’s only one dealer who sells Pineapple Express. Dale, realizing he’s in deep shit panics and head back to Saul’s. From there, things get nutty crazy. So nutty, they’re just too plain silly to write down. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t entertaining and sometimes, hilarious.

This movie is exactly what I thought it would be: extremely stupid and pretty funny. I didn’t have any big expectations and it wouldn’t deliver on any but the movie made me laugh out loud several times which is a needed break from reality. My only real gripe is that like many movies with an extremely stupid and ridiculous plotline, it never really figures out how to end. But the denouement does pay things off well.

If you’re a stoner, like stoners or want to pretend you understand a stoner, watch this movie. I give it a B minus.

Written by the bee dub

July 29, 2009 at 3:48 pm

Butter Grill Vidalia Onions

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butter-grill-onions

I’m a big fan of Vidalia onions. In fact, I’m a big fan of onions in general. Grill some up and throw them on…anything. They make everything better. During the summer Vidalia onions are prized in my house. Their sweet taste and tender texture are a nice complement to the hottest months of the year.

This is an easy, easy way to bring out their best. Trim and clean however many you want to enjoy. Generally I stick with one onion per person. Use a knife and carve out a little cone shaped-piece from the top.

onion

Then create two perpendicular slices towards the root but not all the way to create a ‘crosshair’ effect. Place each onion on a large piece of foil, large enough to bring all corners of the foil up and have the onion completely sealed within/underneath.

onion-sliced-buttered

Take about a tablespoon of butter (or less if you’re uptight about butter) for each onion and cut it into quarters. Place a dab of butter into each slice of the ‘crosshair’ and put a beef bouillon cube into the cavity on top. Then place the cone shaped piece on top.

onion-prepped

Bring all the corners up over the onion and seal the onion in.

onions-foiled

Repeat. Wrap each onion in two or three layers. The juice really comes out of each onion and I’ve learned that it has a tendency to sneak out of the foil. I go with at least two layers, sometimes three. Make sure each piece of foil is large enough and you won’t have any problems.

Put them into a covered grill that’s holding around 350 degrees. If you have a charcoal grill, you can just place the onions right on top of the coals. Some recipes of this type I’ve seen suggest rotating the onions but I haven’t notice any difference whether you do or you don’t. Let them cook on the grill for about 45 minutes.

When you’re done, remove the foiled onions from the grill. Place each one in a bowl of some sort. Carefully remove the foil – it’s going to be very, very hot. There’s a lot of liquid that is sloshing around inside, almost like a French Onion Soup. The juice of the onion, the butter and bouillon combine to create an awesome sauce. The quartered slices of onion are fall-apart tender and seem to caramelize a bit, releasing flavor that fuses with the other ingredients.

Now dig in…

Written by the bee dub

July 20, 2009 at 2:52 pm

Posted in Hermit Grub

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The three H’s of death

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Hot. Hazy. Humid.

What more needs to be said?

Written by the bee dub

July 13, 2009 at 9:31 am

Posted in Daily Happenings

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The Dog Days of Summer in the South

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There’s not much going on lately.

I don’t have much to write about, which is rare for me. Work is slow. Life at home is slow. The home part is, to a large degree, due to the weather here. It’s unbearably hot, probably worse so for me because I don’t do well in humidity. Unfortunately for me, the humidity is likely here to stay until late September or early October.

It’s so hot I dread even getting in my car to run errands or anything. Due to unlucky circumstance, my car sits in the direct sun for most of the day and if it’s in the afternoon the car will be around 180 degrees when I open it. Every seat and surface in my car is sizzling hot.

Mostly I just bunker down at home and crank the A/C. We do take our dog for a walk when we can, which means if we don’t get him going by 10 am, 11 am at the very latest but that’s pushing it, it’s too hot for him and for us. Mind you, by the time we finish the 50-minute-ish walk we’re covered in sweat.

So basically, it’s a good thing I like being at home because it’s so hot I hate going anywhere.

Written by the bee dub

July 9, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Posted in Daily Happenings

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Happy July 4th: 10 DVD’s that define Americana

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This is a bit early but I figured, why not get an early jump on the holiday weekend? This is by no means a list of the best or my favorite movies. Instead, it’s a group of movies with themes that are uniquely American. In no particular order…

LA Confidential – Greed. Power. Celebrity. Desire. Ambition. Corruption. Justice. The timeless themes of this Curtis Hanson directed-movie represent an oversimplified list of has, does and will continue to drive America. The period details are flawless. Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe and Kevin Spacey couldn’t be better.

Bull Durham – America’s Pastime, as seen via a 21 year old comedy that doesn’t at all feel out of place today. Still the best performances of Kevin Costner’s and Tim Robbins’ careers. Men will always want to act like boys, it’s in our DNA. The movie is a love letter for baseball, both the joy it provides and the heartbreak when taken away.

The Big Lebowski – Not everyone’s American dream is to work very, very hard so they can afford a big house, a big car and all the other trappings of success. Some people’s American dream is to simply spark up a J and abide…if they could only be left alone to do it. The plot here barely makes any sense and it makes no difference. Just ride along this Coen Brothers masterpiece with the Dude (Jeff Bridges), Walter (John Goodman) and their nearly-mute companion Donnie (Steve Buscemi) as they try to get justice for the Dude’s soiled rug.

Wall Street – The diametrically opposed summation of everything Lebowski is about. As Americans, we are trained to strive for success and wealth but at what cost? Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas shine in this 1987 Oliver Stone morality tale that might be even more relevant today, if that’s possible. This is the movie that injected the words, “Greed is good,” into the American psyche. I’ll never forget Sheen’s Bud Fox, right before meeting Douglas’ Gordon Gekko for the first time, saying into a mirror, “Life all comes down to a few moments. This is one of those moments.” Too true, Bud…

Black Hawk Down – In today’s climate, America is often dealt the hand of playing policeman to the world. Most modern military engagements of the last fifteen years have taught us that the criteria for defining winners and losers have changed greatly since those of the 20th Century. This movie recreates what ended up being a hugely influential loss in terms of American foreign and military policy. It also spells out why these men fight; not to advance any kind of political agency but rather to simply protect the man next to them.

No Country for Old Men – Times change, not always for the better. In another picece of Coen Brothers handiwork, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles onto a drug deal gone bad with no survivors, just a satchel full of cash. Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem, playing arguably the most memorable villain in movie history) is a hitman sent to recover the money. Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) is an old-school type trying to make sense of it all. It becomes clear to Bell that he’s witnessing a level of violence and ruthlessness he’s not witnessed before, a sure sign that perhaps it’s time for him to step aside. Progress isn’t always pretty.

Magnolia – Can you ever really escape your family? Or your desire to be part of one? Dysfunction becomes a main character in PT Anderson’s sprawling three-hour tale following the lives of several different people around Los Angeles. Here Tom Cruise shines (his finest performance in my opnion) as Frank TJ Mackey, a man who teaches shy men how to, “Tame the cunt!” He’s the estranged son of a very successful but dying Earl Partridge (Jason Robards), who is married to the cheating but repentant Linda (Julianne Moore) and being cared for by male nurse Phil Parma (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), who tries to reunite father and son. Meanwhile, Officer John Kurring (John C. Reilley) is a lonely soul who feels a connection to Claudia (Melora Walters), a cocaine-sniffing woman battling the demons of sexual abuse by her father, Jimmy Gator (Phillip Baker Hall), a successful game show host. Stanley Spector (Jeremy Blackman) is a child prodigy making a historic run as a contestant on the show and Donnie Smith (William H. Macy) is a former winner of the show who can’t move on from his very brief childhood stardom. Confused? You should be. Just hit the play button and hold on for one intense ride.

Zodiac – As far as serial killers go, America is the clear World Champion. I had a hard time picking the one movie to represent this American phenomenon. David Fincher’s Zodiac stuck out as the movie of choice because it’s like a giant puzzle that never gets solved. To me, that’s a great analogy for the serial killer. Even if they’re caught, even if they’re completely psychologically profiled, no one can ever truly understand why they do what they do.

Traffic – A high-powered, all-star ensemble cast (Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, Luiz Guzman, Topher Grace, Erika Christensen and several others) all hit their roles out of the park in this Steven Soderbergh masterpiece. Drugs and people’s desire to consume them have been constant since the formation of the very first society. Today, they’re illegal. Should they be? Should the folks addicted to them be treated as criminals or as people with a sickness? How ruthless do you have to be to run and protect a drug empire? What does it take to take one down? There are no easy answers. There may be no complicated, difficult answers either. Instead, there are real people getting caught up on every conceivable side of the multi-faceted War on Drugs.

The Candidate – Robert Redford stars in the 1972 piece as Bill McKay, the activist son of a prominent politician who becomes a ‘sacrificial lamb’ candidate in a race he cannot possibly win. American politics, as seen here, is nothing but an adversarial process to be won or lost, regardless of message. The classic line, after he does indeed prevail, “What do we do now?” His campaign manager (Peter Boyle) offers no answers. After all, the campaign manager’s job is indeed finished.

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