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Magic Mike

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Image credit: Magic Mike, 2012

Living in Austin, it’s hard to escape the name Matthew McConaughey. Our local celebrity keeps popping up everywhere from University of Texas classrooms to the New York Times Bestseller list, and now there’s even talk about seeing him on the ballot one day. This former Dazed & Confused burnout has come a long way, but there is one particular stop along his long and winding journey that was truly unforgettable: the role of Dallas in Magic Mike (Disc/Download).

Say what you want about this crazy Texan, but it takes guts to strut around onstage in nothing but a g-string and cowboy hat. This Steven Soderbergh film about a Tampa male revue club could have easily been swallowed up by campy dance numbers and too many penis jokes (See: Magic Mike XXL). Don’t get me wrong, it still has those. But it also shows us the gritty underbelly of this sex and drug-fueled world. The odd thing about Magic Mike is that for a movie about sexual desire, there’s very little about it that’s sexy to me. So what are we left with? Raw performances, surprisingly beautiful cinematography, and the magnetic screen presence of McConaughey. Like a greasier version of Cabaret‘s Joel Grey, the Master of Ceremonies keeps us engaged, even when we think we’ve reached our limit of screaming women and wet one-dollar bills. Sure, there’s a lot to make fun of in this movie (Channing Tatum’s “furniture line” comes to mind), but this flashy scene-stealer is not one of them.

Now, I have a theory that Dallas is the original “Florida Man”, giving rise to a whole subgenre of trashy urban legends. Can’t you just see him pulling a gun on a McDonald’s employee because the McFlurry machine was broken? Let’s channel some of that Florida energy with a cocktail fit for your girlfriend’s bachelorette party at Xquisite, the Strawberry Mojito.

Strawberry Mojito

3 Fresh Strawberries

1 oz Simple Syrup

2-3 sprigs Fresh Mint

1 oz Lime juice

2 oz Light Rum

3-4 oz Club Soda

Muddle strawberries and mint with simple syrup and lime juice. Add Rum and ice to the shaker, and shake until chilled. Double strain into a glass filled with ice, and top with club soda. Stir gently to combine, and garnish with mint and lime twist.

As someone who has been to an all-male revue exactly one time (shout out to Thunder From Down Under!!!), I can say that the real thing is every bit as cringe-inducing as it looks in this movie. If your friends try and convince you it’ll be fun, just politely sit them down and suggest watching Magic Mike instead. You’ll save your eardrums, and your dignity. Cheers!



Image credit: Shopgirl, 2005

If you’re like me, the end of November is a panic-inducing time where I realize that I have a million people on my Christmas shopping list and NO IDEA what to buy. The rise in online shopping options means that I haven’t been to a mall in years, however I almost wouldn’t mind going if it meant I could run into Claire Danes at the Saks glove department in this week’s film Shopgirl (DVD/Download).

Adapted from the novella by Steve Martin, Shopgirl stars Claire Danes as Mirabelle Buttersfield, a 20-something visual artist caught in a love triangle between clueless hipster Jeremy and emotionally distant millionaire Ray. Steve Martin’s performance as Ray is quiet and nuanced, and refreshingly different from his broader comedic roles.  And as the well-meaning but utterly oblivious suitor Jeremy, Jason Schwartzman brings to mind so many hapless men of his generation.  With less-than-ideal romantic options such as these, it’s no wonder Mirabelle spirals into depression.

I love that one of Jeremy’s steps toward maturing is a newfound appreciation for cocktails. He tries a mojito for the first time, and we see the wheels spinning. Yes- there is more to life than cheap beer. As further ode to this film’s stunning visual depiction of the city of Los Angeles, while watching Shopgirl I recommend drinking an Echo Park Mojito.

Echo Park Mojito

1 oz blood orange juice

1 Tbsp lime juice

1 oz light rum

2 Tbsp simple syrup

Topo Chico sparkling water

5-6 sprigs of mint

Pour blood orange juice, lime juice, and simple syrup into a glass. Add the mint leaves and muddle them. Add rum and crushed ice, then top the rest of the way with Topo Chico. Stir gently.  Garnish with fresh mint.


I can identify with Mirabelle’s plight of having to take a retail job to support her dreams of being an artist, because I too have been a shopgirl in the past. It’s just what you do when you have a creative dream. You stand behind that counter and hope that maybe someday, somebody looks at you and declares, “this one has value”. And in the meantime, there are cocktails.  Cheers!