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Reality Bites

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Image Credit: Reality Bites, 1994

Image Credit: Reality Bites, 1994

Because my day job involves working at a major university, I am naturally attuned to seasonal student population shifts. Today marks the first week of final exams, which in turn means that I can actually find parking on campus again. Not that I don’t love students (there wouldn’t be a university, or a job for me, without them) but oh how happy I am to see them graduate and go away each year. I hope they move on to bigger and better things, things that don’t involve fast food or basement living, but I’m sure many of them will fall victim to a mild case of Reality Bites depression. This is of course in reference to the film Reality Bites (DVD/Download), an incredibly accurate portrait of post-college life. Even 20 years (!!!) later, the same stereotypes still hold true- the smart, creative superstar of academia who fails to find actual real-world employment, her friend who “temporarily” works at The Gap (maybe forever), the gorgeous slacker who uses his charm to mooch off everyone around him, and the “yuppie head cheese ball” who means well, but is still a sell-out to The Man and unabashedly listens to Peter Frampton. I definitely fell into the Winona Ryder subgenre, astounded that nobody in the real world cared that I aced my Genres of Film final 3 years prior. I didn’t make a psychic friend, but it was close.

Reality Bites follows four friends in Houston as they navigate the tricky waters of adulthood. Winona Ryder plays Lelaina Pierce, valedictorian of her college class, and struggling television producer. After failed attempts at finding a job in her field, she resorts to scamming her dad’s gas card (a GENIUS move) before finally meeting a corporate big-wig (played by the film’s director Ben Stiller), who wants to turn her short film about her friends into a Real World-esque TV show. The movie’s supporting cast is incredible, with hilarious and heartfelt performances by Janeane Garofalo, Steve Zahn, and above all Ethan Hawke, who plays the sexiest slacker in the history of slackers. I don’t care how much acclaim he receives for Boyhood and Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight, to me he’ll always be Troy Dyer 4EVER.

My beverage pairing this week is a tribute to anyone who’s ever been hungover, late to class, and just needs a sugar rush to get through the day. Enter- the Big Gulp. Winona Ryder extolls the virtue of this 7-Eleven beverage on a first date, while sipping from a container that is about 4 times the circumference of her arm. While watching Reality Bites, I recommend drinking an Adult Slurpee.

Adult Slurpee

2 cups cold club soda

½ cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cherry extract

1/2 teaspoon cherry Kool-Aid

3/4 cup vodka

3 cups crushed ice

Pour 1 cup of the club soda into a blender. Add the sugar, cherry extract, and Kool-Aid and blend until the sugar is dissolved. Add the crushed ice and blend on high speed until the drink becomes slushy with a smooth consistency. Add the vodka and remaining club soda and blend briefly until mixed. Pour into glasses and drink with a straw, or spoon straw if you feel like raiding your nearest 7-Eleven. (Note:  It’s easy to make this one non-alcoholic-  just leave out the vodka.  Still delicious!)

big gulp

My favorite quote from this movie is when Ethan Hawke says, “All you have to be by the time you’re 23 is yourself.” I wish I had paid more attention to that line when I was 23, instead of freaking out that I wasn’t “living up to my potential”, or worrying that I’d be asked to define irony at a job interview. So what if the only thing I really learned in college was my social security number? (TRUTH). I still managed to land on my feet, without having to sell fruit at an intersection. Cheers!

Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion

Image credit Touchtone Pictures, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, 1997

Image credit Touchstone Pictures, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, 1997

This week’s Cinema Sips film choice was inspired by a project currently occupying most of my kitchen counter. My better half, artist Christopher Locke, has undertaken a project drawing amazing portraits on Post-It ® sticky notes. He decided to start a Kickstarter campaign to fund the drawing of even more portraits, with the eventual goal of putting them together into a book. Of course, all this talk of sticky notes got me thinking about Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (DVD/Download). After all, they invented Post-It’s ® (okay actually it was Art Fry of the 3M Corp, but Lisa Kudrow sure does know a surprising amount about the chemical formula for glue). This is one of my all-time favorite movies, so I have to thank my husband for giving me an excuse to watch it with a cocktail. I’ll forgive all the sticky notes crowding the kitchen.

Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion is about two lifelong friends who decide to go to their ten-year high school reunion. Mira Sorvino plays Romy White, and the always-brilliant Lisa Kudrow plays Michele Weinberger. As the reunion approaches, they get nervous that they haven’t achieved anything in the 10 years since they’ve graduated. No husbands, no careers, no kids, and they still live together. So, they make themselves some cute business suits, and set out to Tucson pretending to be business women. Of course, they realize a little too late that they don’t actually have a business, so they claim to have invented Post-It’s ®. I won’t ruin the ending here, but I will say that this film features some hilarious performances by Kudrow and Sorvino, as well as Janeane Garofalo, Alan Cumming, and Justin Theroux (long before he was arm-candy for Kudrow’s former Friends co-star Jennifer Aniston). My favorite scene is the interpretive dance done to Cindy Lauper’s “Time After Time”- Alan Cumming just kills it here. But really, there are so many amazing moments. Who among us doesn’t get really happy when Julia Roberts finally gets to shop in Pretty Woman??

My cocktail this week is inspired by a drink I stumbled upon called a Roaring Twenties. After all, Romy and Michelle may be in their 20’s, but they still have just as much fun as they did in high school. It’s pink, it’s tart, and it’s as enjoyable to drink as it is to watch this movie. When watching Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, I recommend drinking a Business Woman’s Special.

Business Woman’s Special

1 1/2 oz light rum

1/4 oz Grenadine

1/4 oz Lemon Juice

1 oz Ginger Ale

Lemon twist (for garnish)

Mix rum, grenadine, and lemon juice in a shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled, and strain into a chilled glass. Top with Ginger Ale.  Garnish with lemon twist. Serve with gummy bears, jelly beans, and candy corn if you’re on a diet.

Business-Woman-Special

I’ve never actually been to a high school reunion, and thanks to Facebook I don’t think I’ll ever feel the need to attend one. I’ve kept in touch with the few people I thought were interesting and intelligent, and that’s all I need. Sometimes I think that my current lack-of-high-paying-career might seem slightly pathetic to those I graduated with, but I suppose aspiring to be a writer gets me some bonus points for creativity. After all, being a broke writer sounds a heck of a lot more interesting than being a wealthy tax attorney. But give me a few years- maybe I’ll be desperate enough to claim invention of the staple remover. So this week, I suggest you watch Romy and Michele, giggle as you drink your Business Woman’s Special, and then after you’ve had a few, head on over to Kickstarter and check out this awesome project. Because Post-It’s ®. Cheers!

Wet Hot American Summer

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Image Credit Eureka Pictures 2001, Wet Hot American Summer

Image Credit Eureka Pictures 2001, Wet Hot American Summer

 

How do I get through summer in Texas? Day b’day, people. One thing that helps is watching a hilarious movie about summer camp, and no I don’t mean The Parent Trap (although I do LOVE Hayley Mills). This week on Cinema Sips, I’m featuring the cult classic Wet Hot American Summer (DVD/Download). Spoofing raunchy 80’s movies like Meatballs and Porky’s, this film is so unabashedly silly that you can’t help but laugh at the bad one-liners, the poor production value, and the plot points that make absolutely no sense. I was lucky enough to see this in a movie theater when it was briefly released in 2001, and I remember wondering why the entire world was not as obsessed with this film as I was. It was the funniest thing I’d seen in years. Well, the world has caught up, and WHAS fever has swept the country, even spawning an upcoming Netflix prequel series. Will all of the original actors make it their beeswax to be in the new series? God I hope so!!

Wet Hot American Summer launched the careers of many of the top comedic actors popular today, including Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, Ken Marino, and even Christopher Meloni (who plays the scene-stealing Vietnam vet, Gene). Janeane Garofalo and David Hyde Pierce are amazing as always, and kudos to Molly Shannon for playing weepy divorcee/art teacher Gail von Kleinenstein, who pulls off a romantic relationship with a very mature 12-year old in a surprisingly non-creepy way. Because this was a David Wain film, we’re also seeing a lot of his usual cadre of actors, including Michael Ian Black and the hilarious Michael Showalter, who plays both lovelorn Coop and Borscht Belt comic Alan Shemper. There are so many quoteable lines in this film, but my favorite has to be the Paul Rudd classic, “You taste like a burger. I don’t like you anymore.” What??!

In an ode to summer camp, I’m making an adult version of Bug Juice. Traditionally made with powder packets (let’s not even think about where Gene claims to keep his packets), I’m eschewing that sugary version for something a little more boozy. Of course if you don’t have the energy for a complex drink, vodka and green Kool-Aid will do the trick, but I think we can do better than that. This week, I’m serving up some Adult Bug Juice

1 oz Blue Curaçao

1 oz Orange Juice

1 oz Pineapple juice

2 oz Lemon lime soda

Pineapple Sherbet

Fill a glass (or mason jar) 3/4 full with chipped ice.  Add the first 3 ingredients one at a time over the ice.  Top with soda, and then the pineapple sherbet.

adult-bug-juice

When I watch Wet Hot American Summer, I always feel like the actors who were in this film must have had the best time making it. I’ve read accounts that it was ridiculously cold and rainy during the filming of it, which makes me really feel for Elizabeth Banks in that skimpy bikini (wait a minute- with that body, I do not feel bad for her). No matter what Amy Poehler does with the rest of her career, I’ll always think of her as the controlling drama-nerd counselor, and ditto for Bradley Cooper, who despite various Academy Award nominations, will always be making out with Michael Ian Black in a tool shed in my mind. So mix up a big batch of Bug Juice, get out your “arts & farts & crafts” supplies and D&D dice, and blast some Loverboy because we’re headed back to 1981 like you’ve never seen it before. Cheers!

*Note:  This week’s cocktail can easily be made non-alcoholic.  Just leave out the Curaçao.  Also, my drink looks great perched on one of my new coasters from Monday Morning Crafts!