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The Swimmer

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The Swimmer

Image credit: The Swimmer, 1968

In stumbling across The Swimmer (Disc/Download), I’ve found a film tailor made for Cinema Sips.  Made in the 1960s, featuring swimming pools and a hell of a lot of alcohol, this is the visual culmination of all my daydreams.

Based on a John Cheever story, The Swimmer stars Burt Lancaster as a sort of proto-Don Draper. He’s a mad man without a compass, having driven away his family long before the story begins, and largely in denial about his crumbling life.  While attending a party at his Connecticut neighbor’s house, he decides he’ll swim home through all the nearby pools, down a sapphire river of suburbia.  It’s not until the end that he realizes home doesn’t exist for him anymore—he’s completely alone. Throughout his journey, he encounters hungover couples who still clutch glasses of gin, a pair of elderly nudists, a doe-eyed teenager with a crush, and oddly enough, Joan Rivers.  At every stop he’s offered a drink, enabling him to swim and imbibe his way through the film.  The story is sad, at times bizarre, but still relatable.  What are pools, and cocktails, if not an escape?

The Swimmer also introduced me to perhaps the one drink I have zero interest in: the Bull Shot. Like a Bloody Mary made with beef broth instead of tomato juice, watching Burt drink his hefty glass of brown was pretty stomach turning.  Let’s celebrate the better parts of summer with a sweeter, more palatable drink:  Sugar on Strawberries.

Sugar on Strawberries

Sugar

3 strawberries

2 oz vodka

½ oz simple syrup

½ oz lemon juice

1 oz champagne

Wet the rim of a martini glass with lemon juice, then dip in sugar.  Set aside. Muddle the strawberries with simple syrup in the bottom of a shaker.  Fill with ice, then add the vodka and lemon juice.  Shake until chilled, then strain into prepared glass. Top with champagne.     

Sugar on Strawberries

Book pictured: Poolside With Slim Aarons

I don’t know what it is about swimming pools, but I’m undeniably drawn to them.  I have no desire to own one; I just want to look at them all day.  Maybe, like Burt Lancaster in The Swimmer, I’m responding to what they represent—an idea of American leisure and luxury.  Maybe I’m an explorer too, imagining what lies beneath the water of those giant turquoise boxes.  Or maybe, I simply want to know what it’s like to feel cool on a hot summer day. Cheers!

Spaceballs

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spaceballs

Image credit: Spaceballs, 1987

I’m just going to say it- Donald Trump stole his hair from Barf.  If you’re like me and searching desperately for a fun Halloween costume, this wisecracking Mog might be your best option. Half man, half dog- he’s his own best friend. Trump wigs are easy to procure these days, and the allusion to this cult classic Star Wars parody will make you the coolest trick-or-treater on the block.

I’ve never been a big Star Wars fan, but I am a huge Mel Brooks fan. His mastery of the art of puns is unparalleled, and Spaceballs (DVD/Download) is no exception. A robot named Dot Matrix? “Combing” the desert?? Pizza the Hut??? Genius. The plot rambles and the acting is deliciously campy, but that script is just magic. And with all the pop culture references, I feel like I’m watching a 2 hour joke crafted for entertainment geeks like me.  And with 80’s comedy greats like Joan Rivers, Rick Moranis, and John Candy populating the cast, it’s hard not to have a good time watching this.

Although this is a cocktail blog, I have to make an exception this week. Lone Starr is just too good a name to slip by. While watching Spaceballs, I recommend drinking the favorite beer of cheap Texans: Lone Star.

lone-star

Mel Brooks is one of those comedy greats whose work will still be relevant and funny long after he’s gone. I love that he is still working on projects, even in his 90’s! I know I’ve said in the past that I despise sequels, but even I would love to see Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money. May the Schwartz be with you, Mr. Brooks. Cheers!