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Top Five Movie Presidents

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Happy Election Day! I know, the future of our nation rests on the results tonight. However, I felt it time to weigh in on an even more important topic- fictional presidents. There have been so many memorable performances, making it incredibly hard to choose. Nevertheless, here are my picks for Top Five Movie Presidents.  They may not be who I’d want in office (except you Michael Douglas!!) but they are the most memorable:

  1. Bill Pullman, Independence Day
bill-pullman

Image Credit: Independence Day, 1996

Ah, Bill Pullman. Or is it Paxton? No, it’s Pullman. He’s the voice of reason in an otherwise campy doomsday fest. He will not vanish without a fight!!!

2.  Billy Bob Thornton, Love Actually

billy-bob-thornton

Image credit: Love Actually, 2003

Is this supposed to be Bill Clinton? With the accent of a Bush? Either way, his performance is smarmy and perfect, and gives America a sense of what the rest of the world thinks of our elected officials.

3.  Michael Douglas, The American President

michael-douglas

Image Credit: The American President, 1995

He’s handsome, he’s single, he’s a Democrat- what more could a girl want? Oh, he also gives fantastic inspirational speeches, wants to pass meaningful gun legislation, and still gets nervous around a beautiful woman. *sigh*

4.  Terry Crews, Idiocracy

terry-crews

Image Credit: Idiocracy, 2006

This one hits a little too close to home. Political satire or Mike Judge’s crystal ball? Only time will tell.

5. Dennis Quaid, American Dreamz

dennis-quaid

Image credit: American Dreamz, 2006

Oh, thinly-veiled W.  Bless your little heart.

The American President

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the-american-president

Image credit: The American President, 1995.

One more day. One more day and what has been the most contentious presidential election that I can ever remember will finally be over. Whoever wins, whatever side you’re on, I think we all can agree on one thing- politics is a lot more pleasant in Hollywood.

Perhaps the best example of this is The American President (DVD/Download), starring Michael Douglas as a widowed POTUS and Annette Benning as his feisty lobbyist girlfriend. Written by West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin and directed by Rob Reiner, this 90’s era romantic comedy just sparkles in its idealism. A president wooing his lady with a Virginia ham and glamorous state dinners? Taking dating tips from his pre-teen daughter? Adorable. And what’s also great is that Annette Benning is no pushover. She stands by her environmentalist beliefs, is unafraid to tell the president that his crime bill is too soft, and does it all wearing some killer pantsuits. Her only enemy? Dupont Circle. And Republicans.

Despite the attacks from political opponents, the President still manages to find time to spirit his girlfriend away to Camp David. A night in front of the fire in a secluded cabin?  Sounds like heaven.  The only thing that would improve it?  A cocktail of course! While watching The American President, I recommend drinking a Sparkling Maple Whiskey Cider.

Sparkling Maple Whiskey Cider

1.5 oz Cabin Fever maple whiskey

4.5 oz Spiced Apple Cider

4.5 oz Ginger soda

Combine all ingredients in a glass filled with ice and stir gently to combine.

maple-whiskey-cider

I try not to get too political on social media or on this blog, because of course I respect the opinions of others and I never want to sound like I’m belittling anyone who thinks differently than I do. We all have our reasons for supporting a particular candidate. But isn’t it great that cocktails are completely non-partisan?  Republicans and Democrats alike enjoy unwinding with a tasty beverage.  If you’re looking for an escape on election night, I proudly endorse this Hollywood political fantasy, and a strong cocktail (or three).  Cheers!

Wonder Boys

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Wonder Boys

Image Credit: Wonder Boys, 2000

As I prepare for a trip to Pittsburgh later this week, I find myself in the midst of an existential crisis. While it’s always fun to visit distant family, I still find myself sighing at the prospect of I.C. Light and “yinz” instead of “y’all”. Plus, there’s the inevitable feeling of inadequacy returning to the city of my youth, not having quite reached that writing career pinnacle yet.  Wonder Boys (DVD/Download), that fantastic adaptation of a Michael Chabon novel, is exactly what I need in my life right now.

There are many things that draw me toward Wonder Boys- the story of a washed up literary giant who’s struggling to find his footing again. As Professor Grady Tripp, Michael Douglas becomes the teacher every writer wishes they had. Funny, encouraging, eccentric, he treats his students like the contemporaries they are. Tobey Maguire gives a quirky performance as his depressed, brilliant protégé James Leer, and Robert Downey Jr. turns on the manic charm as book editor Terry Crabtree. For cinephiles like me, the movie is a dream, filled with Marilyn Monroe references, and classic film trivia galore. I also love that it satirizes the pretentiousness of the literary and academic worlds, with Michael Douglas as a messy antidote- prowling his car through slushy grey streets, dead dog in his trunk, weed in the glove box. It’s just…. so Pittsburgh.

To me, one of the great things about this city is the constant dichotomy between old and new. Sure there are trendy lounges and hip hotels now, but there are still dive bars in the hills where James Brown impersonators like Vernon Hardapple hang out. As an ode to his pregnant baby mama/cocktail waitress Oola (who never forgets a drink), while watching Wonder Boys I recommend drinking a Double Dickel on the Rocks.

Double Dickel on the Rocks

2 oz George Dickel No. 12® Tennessee Whiskey

Lemon twist

Pour whiskey in a glass filled with cracked ice. Top with lemon twist.

Double Dickel

 

While I struggle to find a place for my latest manuscript (even if that place is buried inside my desk drawer), and I begin working on the next one, I have to remind myself that it’s not about recognition or seeing your book in an airport bookstore, or that coveted interview on NPR.  It’s about the act of writing.  As Professor Tripp says, “Nobody teaches a writer anything.  You tell ’em what you know.  You tell ’em to find their voice and stay with it.  You tell the ones that have it to keep at it, you tell the ones that don’t have it to keep at it too… because that’s the only way they’re gonna get to where they’re going.”  As I return to Pittsburgh, I feel comforted and encouraged by that advice.  I haven’t arrived yet, but at least I know where I want to go.  Cheers!

Romancing the Stone

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Image Credit Twentieth Century Fox, Romancing the Stone, 1984

Image Credit Twentieth Century Fox, Romancing the Stone, 1984

 

I’m pleased to be responding to a recent movie request from an avid Cinema Sips reader this week. (side note- keep them coming! I love having to make one less decision in my life).  Romancing the Stone (DVD/Download) is a film I had always just associated with bored afternoons watching bad 80’s movies with my mom. Murphy’s Romance was another gem in her collection. When you’re under the age of 7, it’s hard to protest. But, ever the diplomat, I said I’d watch it and try to come up with a drink. Now that I’ve watched it again as an adult, I gotta admit- it’s pretty fun! I think as a child I was turned off by the fact that all of the actors were filthy and sweaty for much of the film. This is the reason it’s hard for me to like Westerns. When the characters look uncomfortable, I get uncomfortable. But, muddy, ripped wardrobe aside, this turned out to be a fabulous romp featuring campy villains and a heroine who travels to the jungles of Colombia with tiny liquor bottles in her purse- a gal after my own heart!

Romancing the Stone tells the story of romance novelist Joan Wilder (played by Kathleen Turner), who journeys to Colombia to save her kidnapped sister. She’s a writer who drinks alone and hangs out with her cat, living vicariously through the characters she creates. So when Wilder is thrust into a foreign land, she’s a disaster. Luckily, she meets Jack T. Colton (played by Michael Douglas), the charming knave who rescues her from the bad guys trying to steal her treasure map. Of course in the midst of running from the Colombian secret police, running from Danny DeVito, seeking out the treasure, AND trying to get to Cartagena to save the sister, they fall for one another. It’s a story right out of one of Joan Wilder’s romance novels- totally ludicrous, but totally fun. This is a really great movie to pair with a cocktail because although Joan looks pretty uptight and clueless on the surface, the lady can certainly hold her liquor. At one point she’s camped out with Michael Douglas in front of a fire made entirely of burning marijuana, drinking what looks to be a bottle of tequila, and she doesn’t even look that phased! I’d be passed out cold. Although, with a young, sexy Michael Douglas next to me, maybe not. Yes his hair is a little long, but he’s still got that incredible American President charm.

My drink this week was inspired by one that Kathleen Turner enjoys early on in the movie. While meeting with her publisher, she drinks this creamy green concoction that I felt was an odd choice. Whatever happened to the martini lunch? However, after seeing the “treasure” at the end of the map, which looks like a bright green plastic emerald lit by a follow-spot, I understand the green drink a little more. Foreshadowing with a cocktail- brilliant! While watching Romancing the Stone, I recommend drinking a Grasshopper.

Grasshopper

1 oz green crème de menthe

1 oz white crème de cacao

2 scoops vanilla ice cream

Whipped cream for garnish

Blend all ingredients in a blender until thick and creamy, then pour into chilled glasses. Garnish with whipped cream.

Grasshopper

I had to laugh while watching this movie because of the connection I felt to Joan Wilder. I too am a romance novelist (see first novel Design District on Amazon) and while I don’t exactly sit at my keyboard wearing giant headphones and sobbing, I do often get wrapped up in the storytelling. It’s incredibly fun to write characters who do wild things that I would never do in real life, saying things I would never have the guts to say. I love that Joan finds the adventure that she had previously only imagined, and I also love that her success as a writer gets her out of a jam multiple times. Who knows- maybe my next book will be a hit in the jungles of Colombia too, saving me from death by firing squad. Hey, it could happen. Cheers!