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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

This week, I’m pleased to respond to a recent movie request from an avid Cinema Sips reader (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 associated with lazy afternoons watching bad ’80s movies with my mom (Murphy’s Romance) was another gem in her collection. Now that I’ve watched it again as an adult, I must admit- it’s pretty fun! Really, any heroine who travels to the jungles of Colombia with tiny liquor bottles in her purse is a gal after my own heart.

Romancing the Stone tells the story of romance novelist Joan Wilder (played by Kathleen Turner), a buttoned-up cat lady who drinks alone and lives vicariously through the characters she creates. Joan gets into trouble after flying to Colombia to rescue her kidnapped sister, but luckily she meets Jack T. Colton (played by Michael Douglas), the charming rogue who saves her from some bad folks trying to steal her treasure map. Naturally, while running from the Colombian secret police, running from Danny DeVito, searching for 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-  ludicrous, but wildly entertaining.

My drink this week was inspired by one that Kathleen Turner enjoys quite early in the movie as she meets with her publisher in Manhattan. She drinks a creamy green concoction that initially seems like an odd choice (what ever happened to the three-martini lunch???); however, after seeing the bright emerald “treasure” at the end of the map, I understand this green drink choice 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 feel to Joan Wilder. I too am an (aspiring) novelist, and while I don’t exactly sit at my keyboard wearing giant headphones and sobbing, I often get wrapped up in the storytelling. It’s incredibly fun to write characters who do wild things I would never actually 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!