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The Karate Kid

Image credit: The Karate Kid, 1984

Before going down the Cobra Kai rabbit hole (if you don’t know what this is, GET A NETFLIX SUBSCRIPTION NOW!!!), I decided to revisit the film that inspired the world’s new favorite soap-opera-for-the-middle-aged. Plus, with Halloween right around the corner, it seemed like a good time to examine the genesis of my childhood nightmares—those motorcycle-riding blonde villains in their skeleton costumes and terrifying makeup. The Karate Kid (Disc/Download) is a nostalgia trip to the 1980s, but you know what? I’m pretty excited to go back.

First things first—Ralph Macchio was and still is a BABE. Pre-teen Liz was all about sweet Daniel and his luscious olive skin, and don’t even get me started on that dopey shower curtain costume. So creative! My husband loves to champion his theory that Daniel LaRusso is the real bully of The Karate Kid, but I wholeheartedly disagree. Daniel does not dress up like a creepy skeleton and beat a kid within an inch of his life. He does not sweep the leg. All he does is fall for the wrong single girl (sorry Johnny, you had your chance), and douse his tormentor with water. However, the fact that my husband and I have such differing opinions on this proves that the film has very layered, nuanced characters. This is not just a group of one-note villains and heroes. They all have complex backstories, none more so than that of Daniel’s sensei, Mr. Miyagi. As a child watching this movie, Miyagi’s tragic past didn’t even register to me. But as an adult, my heart breaks for the war hero whose wife and child perished in a Japanese Internment Camp. The fact that this role was played by comic Pat Morita with such dignity and honesty (for he, too, had spent time in the camps), makes it all the more powerful. This is not just a movie about martial arts; this is a movie about finding the hero within oneself, even when the world may have turned its back on you.

My drink this week is an ode to Mr. Miyagi’s low-key, retro style. I can just imagine him sipping a tiki beverage in his Japanese garden, watching Daniel wax-on/wax-off. While watching The Karate Kid, I recommend enjoying this Hai Karate cocktail.

Hai Karate

2 oz Aged Rum

1 oz Lime Juice

1 oz Orange Juice

1 oz Pineapple Juice

1 tsp Maple Syrup

1 dash Angostura Bitters

Dried citrus/Luxardo Cherry for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then pour (unstrained) into a glass. Garnish with citrus slices and Luxardo Cherry.

One of the things I love so much about the television show Cobra Kai is that it goes out of its way to pay tribute to the fan-favorite aspects of The Karate Kid. Cutting in scenes from the movie, they weave a story that feels contemporary and classic all at once. We feel the joy of an ‘80s muscle car blasting power ballads, the thrill of finding familiar faces on our screens once again, and above all, we feel the loss of Mr. Miyagi. Daniel tries to spread his teachings of balance and peace, and somehow it feels like the big battle of our modern times. Can the Miyagi-do principles of tolerance and inclusivity triumph once again, or will the bullies win this round? I guess we’ll find out in about forty-four more days. Cheers!

Honeymoon in Vegas

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Image Credit: Castle Rock Entertainment, Honeymoon in Vegas, 1992

Image Credit: Castle Rock Entertainment, Honeymoon in Vegas, 1992

A recent trip to Las Vegas has prompted me to re-watch some of the better movies set in Sin City, including Casino, Oceans Eleven, The Hangover, 21, and my personal favorite (and this week’s Cinema Sips pick), Honeymoon in Vegas (DVD/Download). This film gives a bit of an outdated view of The Strip (prompting my mother and I both to wonder- Is Bally’s even there anymore?) but even without Cirque du Soleil ads and trendy restaurants, it’s still a delightful romp about the dangers of gambling, the dry heat of the desert, and the timeless hilarity of Elvis impersonators.

Honeymoon In Vegas is one of the better films to come out of Nicholas Cage’s weird-n-wild oeuvre, only because in this one, his intense, slightly insane mannerisms really work for the character. He plays private investigator Jack Singer, a man terrified of marriage who nevertheless proposes to his longtime girlfriend Betsy (played by Sarah Jessica Parker). They run off to Vegas to elope, but before they can get to the chapel, he enters a rigged poker game set up by mobster Tommy Korman (played by James Caan). Of course Jack loses, and instead of paying money that he doesn’t have, he agrees to let his girlfriend spend the weekend with the mobster. James Caan takes SJP to Hawaii while Nicholas Cages runs around like a chicken with its head cut off, and hijinks ensue. Some great cameos to look for are Pat Morita (aka Mr. Miyagi) as the Hawaiian taxi driver, as well as little baby Bruno Mars singing his heart out as a child Elvis impersonator. The story is ridiculous, but it always gets me excited for Las Vegas, and hopeful that one day I’ll actually spot an Indian Elvis wearing a turban. It’s like seeing a Yeti.

On the cocktail front, I had the good fortune of attending some great Texas Tiki Week events last week. I always look forward to the last week of June because it means Austin becomes a sea of rum drinks in commemorative tiki glasses. How appropriate then to mix up a classic tiki drink to enjoy while watching Sarah Jessica Parker flaunt her perfect body on the beaches of Hawaii. When watching Honeymoon in Vegas, I recommend drinking a Mai Tai.

Mai Tai

1oz light rum

1oz dark rum

½ oz lime juice

½ oz orange curacao

½ oz orgeat syrup

Maraschino cherry and fresh lime for garnish

Pour all of the ingredients except the dark rum into a shaker filled with ice cubes. Shake well, then strain into an old-fashioned glass (or Tiki mug if you have it) half filled with ice. Top with more chipped ice, then add the dark rum.  Garnish with a cherry, lime, and a drink umbrella.

mai-tai

As much as I love Vegas, my favorite parts of this film are definitely the Hawaii scenes. Watching Nicholas Cage shout Kapa’aa into a pay phone just makes my year. And let’s not forget the South Pacific sing-along with Peter Boyle’s island chief. As a child I often wondered how the parakeet brandy they drink was made- crushed feathers? Beaks?  To be on the safe side, stick with the Mai Tai, and never forget- if you’re about to jump out of an airplane dressed as Elvis, it’s yellow, then red. Kabluna, and Cheers!